Last week I heard prognosticators opine that the opening blast of the holiday shopping season has shifted from the traditional brick-and-mortar Black Friday to Cyber Monday for online retailers, because so many online shoppers, who tend to be younger, use their work computers to make their cyber-purchases, and people don’t work on Black Friday.
Based upon the Holiday eShopping Index of Internet researcher Nielsen//NetRatings, gathered from over 100 representative online retailers, the online holiday season either began on Friday or is going to be massively larger than anyone anticipated.
Nielsen//NetRatings’ Index saw a 29 percent increase on the day after Thanksgiving, garnering a unique audience of 17.2 million compared with 13.3 million on Black Friday last year. Despite concerns about online security, shoppers continue to visit online retailers in ever-increasing numbers, taking advantage of the convenience, speed, and comparison-shopping opportunities the Internet affords.
EBay was the top online retailer on Black Friday, with 9.5 million unique visitors, followed by Amazon and Wal-Mart Stores, which drew 4.6 million and 3.4 million unique visitors, respectively (see Table 1). Target and BestBuy.com rounded out the top five online shopping destinations, attracting unique audiences of 2.9 million and 2.1 million, respectively. These same retailers led the top online shopping destinations last year on Black Friday and were joined this year by Circuitcity.com, Dell, and Shopzilla.com Network in the top 10.
The fastest growing retail category on Black Friday was toys/video games, with a 152 percent growth over last year. Consumer electronics followed close behind with 142 percent growth, and computer hardware/software rounded out the top three with 102 percent growth. Overall week-over-week growth for the week 11/18/05 to 11/25/05 was 39 percent.
“The toys and video games category experienced the largest increases in traffic fueled by the release of the Xbox 360 and the continued popularity of portable game consoles. The consumer electronics and computer hardware categories also attracted holiday shoppers to the web to research and purchase this year’s hottest gift items, including flat-screen TV’s, iPods and other MP3 players,” said Heather Dougherty, Nielsen//NetRatings senior retail analyst. “Price slashing and heavy demand will drive significant sales in these categories this holiday season.”
In our little corner of the cyber-shopping-sphere, we saw a big jump on Friday, with strength through the weekend, but our vaunted Cyber Monday was a dud. Hey, but we aren’t one of the Nielsen’s “representative 100” online retailers either, so what do we know?