Thanksgiving has come and gone, which can only mean one thing: The insane shopping spree U.S. consumers lament every year, even as they feverishly dive into daily deals and ravenous retail offerings in the lead-up to Christmas Day, has officially started.
“Black Friday” gained particular importance in the media this year, as the annual shopping frenzy was framed by many prominent business media outlets as a direct competition between “brick and mortar” retailers like Best Buy (NYSE: BBY), Target (NYSE: TGT), and Wal-Mart (NYSE: WMT) and their younger, online-only rivals like Amazon (Nasdaq: AMZN). A report from American Public Media’s Marketplace suggested that traditional retailers were so intimidated by online e-commerce that many stores were forced to extend the limits of “Black Friday” to include Thursday night, or even Wednesday, to compete with the “showrooming” effect that services like Amazon inspire in customers.
With Cyber Monday just beginning, reports are already beginning to trickle in of the success of online sales relative to their brick-and-mortar counterparts. According to a report from the Financial Times, online sales for Friday, Nov. 23, jumped as much as 26 percent to $1 billion, according to a report from the digital business research firm ComScore. IBM recorded a slightly lower increase at 21 percent.
Both the Financial Times and the Wall Street Journal focused on the success of big-name retail brands, with the FT additionally noting that three of the top five websites used for Black Friday Shopping -- Walmart, Best Buy, Target, Apple (Nasdaq: AAPL) and, of course, Amazon -- were e-commerce alternatives to the company’s own physical retail stores. But other reports focused on the rapid growth of smaller online-only retailers, hinting at the possibility of expanded e-commerce in the Black Fridays of years to come.
Just in time for Cyber Monday, the network infrastructure firm Deepfield released a report Monday morning corroborating reports about the growth of e-commerce holiday shopping. The report focused specifically on the unprecedented success of Amazon, which has also expanded its own retail brand with periodic acquisitions and launches of new offshoot sites such as Myhabit or Zappos.
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“What is truly impressive is how much larger Amazon shopping is compared to any other online site,” the report said. “Amazon is almost double the next largest shopping competitor, eBay (Nasdaq: EBAY), which enjoys 8.8% of daily Internet users.”
The increase in e-commerce was abetted in large part by a corresponding expansion of “couch-commerce” -- consumers accessing online sales through their mobile and tablet devices. IBM stated that purchases made on iPads alone accounted for 10 percent of all online transactions, while mobile devices in general accounted for 16 percent.
The future of Wal-Mart and Best Buy may therefore rest in mobile apps rather than lightning deals and long lines on the night of Thanksgiving in the holiday shopping sprees of the future.