Black Friday may have brick-and-mortar retailers singing the blues this holiday season, new reports indicate. Continuing a seismic shift in American purchasing patterns, online sales the day after Thanksgiving topped the $1 billion mark for the first time, a 26 percent increase over Black Friday 2011, according to preliminary sales data.
This growth, analysts say, may have come at the expense of Black Friday sales in retail stores, which were down an estimated 1.8 percent this year.
Black Friday online sales this year reached $1.042 billion, marking the heaviest online spending day to date in 2012, according to comScore, a provider of digital business analytics.
For the first 23 days of holiday season to date, $13.7 billion has been spent online, a 16 percent increase over the same period last year.
Even Thanksgiving Day, traditionally a lighter day for online spending, posted a 32 percent increase this year, to $633 million. Cyber Monday, based on performance over the past three years, is on target to reach $1.5 billion or higher, making it the heaviest online shopping day of the season, comScore said.
The apparel and accessories category was the top online shopping segment, accounting for a quarter of all dollars spent. Historically, the category has ranked No. 2 behind computer hardware, comScore said.
For the holiday season to date, though, digital content and subscriptions led the way as the top-growing online retail category (up 29 percent versus a year ago) as the rapid adoption of smartphones, tablets and e-readers continues to drive demand for digital books, audio and video content.
"Despite the frenzy of media coverage surrounding the importance of Black Friday in the brick-and-mortar world, we continue to see this shopping day become more and more prominent in the e-commerce channel — particularly among those who prefer to avoid crowds at the stores," said Gian Fulgoni, comScore chairman. "With Black Friday online sales up 26 percent and surpassing $1 billion for the first time, coupled with early reports indicating that Black Friday sales in retail stores were down 1.8 percent, we can now confidently call it a multichannel marketing phenomenon."