Home Online Holiday Shopping Season Charges Out of the Gate

Online Holiday Shopping Season Charges Out of the Gate

So-called “Black Friday,” the day after the Thanksgiving holiday in the US, is the unofficial start of the holiday shopping season, and this year online retailers saw traffic surge with shoppers spending over 4/5ths of a billion dollars on Thursday and Friday alone. According to comScore, shoppers plunked down $272 million online on Thursday, and $531 million on Friday — an increase of 29% and 22%, respectively, over the same days last year.

IDG reports that price comparison sites also claimed a huge increase in traffic over the 2006 holiday shopping kick-off. PriceGrabber saw referral traffic up a reported 47%, while Shopping.com watched its referrals increase 61%.

One thing that seemingly hasn’t changed: the hottest product. The Nintendo Wii continued to see torrid sales and dominated searches at online retailers, and video games as a category saw sales leap 134% this year. Microsoft’s new line of Zune media players placed second among holiday shoppers at PriceGrabber, Shopping.com, and eBay (based on searches for consumer electronics Thursday and Friday).

Online retailers can only expect today to be even busier. What started as a marketing gimmick a few years ago, “Cyber Monday,” in which online retailers give additional discounts to shoppers (many of whom are connecting to the Internet from work for the first time following a long weekend in the US), appears to have gained industry-wide acceptance. Shop.org, an electronic retail trade group, reports that 72.2% of online retailers will participate in Cyber Monday. That is a significant increase over the 42.7% who participated just two years ago. Some retailers, such as Wal-Mart, plan to offer online deals all week, skipping the Monday tradition altogether.

72 million consumers plan to shop online today, according to BIGresearch, and comScore predicts revenues of over $700 million, which could be the start of an online shopping season some see reaching $30 billion this year.

Will you shop online this year? Have you taken advantage of any online deals yet today? Did you shop online on Friday?

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