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Early Promotions Drive Record Online Sales for Thanksgiving, Fuels Black Friday Retail Surge, Reports IBM

Mobile Commerce Exceeds 16 Percent of Online Sales, led by the iPad

ARMONK, N.Y., Nov. 24, 2012 /PRNewswire/ -- According to IBM (NYSE: IBM), US shoppers once again took advantage of early promotions this holiday season, driving a 17.4 percent increase in online sales Thanksgiving Day. This increase set the stage for 20.7 percent growth on Black Friday.  The biggest surge came from mobile consumers, with sales reaching 16.3 percent, led by the iPad. This data is the result of cloud-based analytics findings from IBM. 

(Photo:  http://photos.prnewswire.com/prnh/20121124/NY18067 )
(Logo: http://photos.prnewswire.com/prnh/20090416/IBMLOGO )

As part of IBM's Smarter Commerce initiative, the IBM Digital Analytics Benchmark revealed the following trends as of 12:00 am PST:

  • Consumer Spending Increases: Online sales on Thanksgiving grew by 17.4 percent followed by Black Friday where sales increased 20.7 percent over last year.
  • Mobile Shopping: Mobile purchases soared with 24 percent of consumers using a mobile device to visit a retailer's site, up from 14.3 percent in 2011.  Mobile sales exceeded 16 percent, up from 9.8 percent in 2011.   
  • The iPad Factor: The iPad generated more traffic than any other tablet or smartphone, reaching nearly 10 percent of online shopping. This was followed by iPhone at 8.7 percent and Android 5.5 percent. The iPad dominated tablet traffic at 88.3 percent followed by the Barnes and Noble Nook at 3.1 percent, Amazon Kindle at 2.4 percent and the Samsung Galaxy at 1.8 percent.
  • Multiscreen Shopping: Consumers shopped in store, online and on mobile devices simultaneously to get the best bargains. Overall 58 percent of consumers used smartphones compared to 41 percent who used tablets to surf for bargains on Black Friday.
  • The Savvy shopper: While consumers spent more overall, they shopped with greater frequency to take advantage of retailer deals and free shipping.  This led to a drop in average order value by 4.7 percent to $181.22.  In addition, the average number of items per order decreased 12 percent to 5.6. 
  • Social Media Sentiment Index: Shoppers expressed positive consumer sentiment on promotions, shipping and convenience as well as the retailers themselves at a three to one ratio.
  • Social Sales: Shoppers referred from Social Networks such as Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn and YouTube generated .34 percent of all online sales on Black Friday, a decrease of more than 35 percent from 2011.

"This year's holiday shopper was hungry for great deals and retailers didn't disappoint, rolling out compelling offers which consumers gobbled up on Thanksgiving straight through Black Friday," said Jay Henderson, Strategy Director, IBM Smarter Commerce. "The big winners were chief marketing officers who used technology to deliver customer experiences that not only connected shoppers with personalized deals but did so at the right touchpoint and at precisely the right time and place, whether on their couch or the store floor."

"To remain relevant, retailers must find opportunities to participate in holiday rituals in ways that aid consumers' attainment of the holidays they imagine -- enjoying time with family and shopping when convenient," said Tonya Bradford Assistant Professor, Mendoza School of Business, the University of Notre Dame. "Technology provides more opportunities for retailers to create these experiences for consumers through their mobile computing devices."

Holiday sales growth was led by several industries which include:

  • Department stores continued to offer compelling deals and promotions that drove sales to grow by 16.8 percent over Black Friday 2011.
  • Health and Beauty sales increased 11 percent year over year with consumers once again choosing to pamper themselves this holiday.
  • Home goods maintained its momentum this year, reporting a 28.2 percent increase in sales from Black Friday 2011.
  • Apparel sales were also strong this holiday with Black Friday numbers showing an increase of 17.5 percent over 2011.

Today's news is based on findings from the IBM Digital Analytics Benchmark, the industry's only cloud-based Web analytics platform that tracks more than a million e-commerce transactions a day, analyzing terabytes of raw data from 500 retailers nationwide.

Analysis of public social media content came from the IBM Social Sentiment Index, an advanced analytics and natural language processing tool that analyzes large volumes of social media data to assess public opinions. With this data IBM helps chief marketing officers (CMOs) better understand and respond to the needs of each individual customer, improving sourcing, inventory management, marketing, sales and services programs.

More information on Smarter Commerce can be found at

IBM Digital Analytics Benchmark Video:

IBM Black Friday InfoGraphic:

To join the conversation, follow hashtags #smartershopping, #smartercommerce and #ibmretail on Twitter


1.   Complete IBM 2012 Black Friday Benchmark Report (pdf)

2.   Press FAQ


Media Contacts:
Doug Fraim
IBM Media Relations
(617) 501-6376
[email protected]


SOURCE IBM Corporation

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