Frenzied online shopping on Black Friday and Cyber Monday is likely to lead to record revenues for online merchants, according to new figures from IBM and research firm comScore.
IBM's Smarter Commerce analytics service said that online firms saw a 24.3 per cent growth in Black Friday retail activity compared to the same day in 2010. Overall spending was up 39.3 per cent over the same period, meaning that customers are spending more money on each transaction.
ComScore estimated that some 50 million people visited retail web sites on Black Friday in the US, and that total November online retail sales have reached $12.7bn, including $816m on Black Friday.
"Despite some analysts' predictions that the flurry of bricks-and-mortar retailers opening their doors early for Black Friday would pull dollars from online retail, we still saw a banner day for e-commerce with more than $800m in spending," said Gian Fulgoni, chairman of comScore.
"With bricks-and-mortar retail also reporting strong gains on Black Friday, it is clear that the heavy promotional activity had a positive impact on both channels."
The strong growth continued through the weekend. Early reports suggest that spending on Cyber Monday was up some 15 per cent over last year and on target to set another record for online retail sales.
IBM noted that mobile devices are playing a key role in the holiday season this year, especially smartphones and Apple's iPad tablet.
"This year marked Thanksgiving's emergence as the first big spending day of the 2011 holiday season with a record number of consumers shifting focus from turkey to tablets and the search for the best deals," said IBM Smarter Commerce chief strategy officer John Squire.
"This momentum continued into Black Friday where the big winners were those retailers that delivered a smarter commerce experience with compelling, relevant deals that people could easily access from their channel of choice."
Ssupermassive black hole is so big it corresponds to four per cent of the galaxy's total mass
Imminent attack will target a single bank with cloned cards used to fraudulently withdraw millions over one weekend
Using photocatalysts to convert carbon dioxide into usable energy such as methane or ethane
Trained on curated data from Moorfields Eye Hospital, the neural network also shows clinicians how it reached its judgement