Thanksgiving Day Shopping Soon to Top Black Friday?

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Results for the shopping extravaganza known as Black Friday have begun to come in and by all accounts, Thanksgiving Day and Black Friday shoppers held up their end of the bargain. Retailers’ promotional prices not only brought more shoppers into stores and websites, but those shoppers were spending cash.

According to Adobe Systems Inc. (NASDAQ: ADBE), shoppers welcomed the Thanksgiving Day opening:

The increase in Thanksgiving online sales surpassed last year, breaking the billion-dollar mark at $1.06 billion, with actual spending up 18%. No laggard, Black Friday reached a record of its own, with actual spending jumping to nearly $2 billion ($1.93 billion)—up more than 30% [year over year].

The following chart from Adobe shows hour by hour online sales for Black Friday for each of the past four years.

BlackFridayByTheHour-2013
Source: Adobe Systems Inc.

Perhaps the most amazing thing about the past couple of days is the realization that Thanksgiving Day shopping could meet or exceed Black Friday spending within a few years if retailers continue to broaden promotional offerings and make it easier for consumers to shop both from the desktop and from mobile devices. Adobe’s tally revealed that 24% of all online sales were made from mobile devices, up 118% compared with mobile sales in 2012.

Of the mobile devices, iOS tablets and devices from Apple Inc. (NASDAQ: AAPL) accounted for $543 million in sales over the two days, with iPads accounting for $416 million of that total. Mobile devices using the Android operating system from Google Inc. (NASDAQ: GOOG) brought in $148 million in sales.

Interestingly, sales from iPhones alone totaled $126 million and Android phones rang up $106 million in sales. Apple’s big advantage as a sales driver came from iPad owners.

According to the IBM Digital Analytics Benchmark group, as of Friday evening online sales for Black Friday were up 9.8% year over year. More than 38% of all online traffic came from mobile devices like smartphones and tablets and 21% of all online sales were made from mobile devices.

The data from Adobe squares pretty closely with IBM’s data, which showed 13.5% of all online sales were driven by tablets, nearly double the 7.5% driven by smartphones. The average order from a table totaled $134.48 compared with $116.37 per order.

By social media mentions, Amazon.com Inc. (NASDAQ: AMZN) was the leader closely followed by Wal-Mart Stores Inc. (NYSE: WMT) and the NFL got about twice as many mentions as the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade. And the term “Black Friday” got more mentions in social media than did Thanksgiving Day.

Adobe is estimating Cyber Monday sales will rise 15% year over year to $2.27 billion.

For all the chatter about Thanksgiving Day shopping, retailers appear to have their finger on the pulse of the country better than do the pundits who rail against shopping on the holiday. Perhaps shopping from the family room couch while watching an NFL game is the future of Thanksgiving evening.

Whether the strong spending of the last two days will continue until Christmas remains to be seen. Shoppers clearly went after promotional prices and if retailers want to keep packing them in more promotions appear to be the key to making that happen. How that will affect margins and profits for the quarter is still a question.

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