With Thanksgiving hitting a record $2.87 billion in online sales in the U.S., Black Friday is shaping up to be an even bigger haul for online retailers. Figures from Adobe — which analyses 80 percent of online transactions to the 100 largest web retailers in the country to come up with its numbers — put total sales at $640 million as of 7 am Pacific time today, up 18.4 percent compared to a year ago.
As a point of comparison, yesterday by this time of the day, there were $360 million in sales. At half the value of today’s gross merchandise value, Black Friday is shaping up to be a strong day for e-commerce.
Collectively, e-commerce has generated $33.26 billion in sales so far in November (up 17 percent year-on-year).
Black Friday — and the subsequent pool of days that has spread around it — are significant for consumers because they get a chance to buy items at a deep discount to their normal prices. (Unless you subscribe to the school of “Hey, if you don’t buy anything, you get a 100 percent discount!”)
They are significant for online retailers because they set the pace and are a bellwether for the rest of November and December, traditionally the most important time of the year for their businesses to rack up holiday sales.
As with yesterday — and in keeping with trends that have been in place for years now — mobile is an increasingly key channel for driving traffic and sales to sites. No less than 61.1 percent of all traffic to e-commerce sites is coming from mobile devices (likely a combination of mobile web but of course also fuelled by apps). Of that, just over half of that (50.9 percent) is coming from smartphones, with the remainder from tablets.
“The big story this holiday season is in mobile shopping. Retailers know this is where the audience is now and are delivering better experiences. On both Thanksgiving and Black Friday, the gap between mobile traffic and revenue is closing,” said Mickey Mericle, VP of marketing and customer insights at Adobe. “Shoppers looking for discounts are getting better at using smartphones to quickly close the deal, and we are seeing better mobile conversion this season at over ten percent growth.”
On the shopping front, mobile is also strong although less so: it’s accounting for 46.2 percent of sales, 34.4 percent from smartphones, and 11 percent for tablets. Conversion continues to improve but is still not spectacular: the percentage of people who browse and subsequently buy is now at 4.1 percent for desktop and 1.8 percent for smartphones, up 11.4 percent and 10.4 percent respectively.
Tablets, and the story of their decline in importance in shopping — especially as smartphones have gotten faster, easier to use and bigger — is an interesting trend. It’s also been going on for a while now, and if you could use its performance in e-commerce as a track for how much they are used overall, the picture is not that bright for tablets.
In terms of what is being purchased, Adobe highlights electronics like TVs and computers as two big sellers today, as are the Chromecast and Roku. Other top products it said include Apple AirPods, the Sony Playstation VR, the Nintendo Switch and Xbox One X.
We will continue updating this post as we find more numbers, from Adobe and others.