Strong Online Retail Lead-In for Cyber Monday

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A graph of Black Friday activity at retail sites shows traffic peaking at midnight, indicating strong activity by mobile deal-seekers as well as "couch commerce" among shoppers seeking virtual doorbusters. (Source: Akamai)

Today is Cyber Monday, and all the trends suggest solid growth in online retail activity. Early data from the holiday weekend highlight three trends: strong overall year-to-year growth in online sales, the emergence of Thanksgiving evening as a major event for retail (both online and off) and the increasing use of mobile phones and tablets on retail sites. The growth in mobile traffic appears to include comparison shopping by deal-seekers in stores, as well as an increase in “couch commerce” by surfers seeking virtual doorbuster sales.

Some of the best data and insights came from the Akamai blog, which featured regular updates from Akamai e-commerce strategist Lelah Manz. Here’s our roundup of holiday retail data, featuring several informative posts from Akamai, as well e-commerce activity seen by IBM and Paypal:

  • Akamai (Thanksgiving Day) – “With Akamai retail traffic up 76% on average, and 74% at peak at 9:00 PM EST, there were strong indications that Thanksgiving will emerge once again as the star of the holiday shopping weekend.  If we assume the same conversion index (see Part 2 of this holiday blog series) then Thanksgiving Day could exceed $700 million, surpassing Black Friday online totals last year.”
  • Akamai (Black Friday) – “While nowhere near as explosive as Thanksgiving Day, the traffic growth continues to trend at much higher levels than 2010, on average 30% higher.  The open question from Thanksgiving was whether Thanksgiving Day was just a shift of shopping activity from Black Friday, or a new shopping day in its own right.  With Black Friday growth data so strong, it appears to be the latter.”
  • IBM – “Black Friday witnessed the arrival of the mobile deal seeker who embraced their devices as a research tool for in-store and online bargains, according to data from IBM’s Smarter Commerce business. Mobile traffic increased to 14.3 percent on Black Friday 2011 compared to 5.6 percent in 2010, while sales on mobile devices surged to 9.8 percent from 3.2 percent year over year. Mobile shopping was led by Apple, with the iPhone and iPad ranking one and two for consumers shopping on mobile devices (5.4 percent and 4.8 percent respectively).”
  • PayPal – PayPal documented the traffic spikes growth trend for Thanksgving day buying, as well as the mobile surfing. “There was a more than three-fold (350%) increase in the number of global customers shopping through PayPal mobile on Thanksgiving 2011 compared to last year, the company said. Thanksgiving 2011 resulted in a five-fold (511%) increase in global mobile payment volume compared to Thanksgiving 2010.”

About the Author

Rich Miller is the founder and editor-in-chief of Data Center Knowledge, and has been reporting on the data center sector since 2000. He has tracked the growing impact of high-density computing on the power and cooling of data centers, and the resulting push for improved energy efficiency in these facilities.

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