Electronics Leads in Holiday Online Sales

The Friday after Thanksgiving recorded the biggest daily online-shopping audience of the season so far.

According to the Nielsen//NetRatings Holiday E-Commerce Index, 28 percent more visitors went to online retail sites Nov. 28 than the prior Friday, Nov. 21, and there were 19 percent more at-home visitors than the average over the previous four days.

“Retailers recognize the Friday after Thanksgiving as the official start of the holiday shopping season, and this year online retail Web sites saw similarly brisk Internet activity on Friday [Nov. 28],” Robert Leathern, director of commerce analytics at Nielsen//NetRatings, said in a statement.

The index measures over the holidays 112 retail sites in each category, multi-categories and across comparison-shopping services.

Consumer electronics this year was the most popular category online on Black Friday, called that because it is traditionally when retailers move into the black for the year. Nielsen//NetRatings said 187 percent more visitors went to consumer electronics sites Nov. 28 versus Nov. 21.

Similarly, traffic to home and garden sites was up 105 percent, and up 90 percent for apparel stores. Toys and video games had the biggest growth over the week: 123 percent more Nov. 28 than the Monday-to-Thursday average.

Also, comparison-shopping services and portals saw a 63 percent rise in Black Friday traffic from the previous week.

Among general retail sites, Amazon, eBay, target.com, Walmart.com and QVC recorded 8.7 million visitors on Black Friday, 19 percent higher than the previous four days' average and 27 percent more than the previous Friday.

However, specialty sites selling books, music and videos had 7 percent fewer unique visitors on Black Friday versus the previous Friday.

All of this suggests that the day after Thanksgiving is becoming a firm indicator of things to come for holiday e-commerce as it is for store-based retail sales.

A survey by Bigresearch for the National Retail Federation showed that 71.8 percent of consumers went out shopping on the Black Friday weekend.

Top-selling gifts in stores over that weekend included books, CDs, DVDs, videos and video games, accounting for 39.3 percent of all purchases. Next came clothing or clothing accessories at 35.6 percent, followed by toys at 31.6 percent and home decor or home-related furnishings at 20.5 percent.

Still, while more than half of surveyed consumers began their holiday shopping, they were not as far along as they were last year. The survey found the average consumer has completed 36.9 percent of his holiday shopping by Dec. 1 versus 38.7 percent last year.

The NRF sees the glass as half full.

“As a whole, consumers have completed less of their shopping than they had last year at this time,” NRF president Tracy Mullin said in a statement. “This could mean that the best is yet to come in December.”

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