RealTime IT News

Retailers Ringing in Holiday Cheer

Whether it's Black Friday or Cyber Monday, online holiday visits this week are bringing holiday cheer to retailers, as holiday shoppers flocked to the Internet for deals.

A report last week notes online buying will increase with 34 percent of all consumers buying holiday gifts online.

But retailers have their eyes just as set on today's Cyber Monday, as office dwellers log onto their high-speed Internet connections at work.

According to edge routing specialists Akamai and its Net Usage Index for Retail, online traffic today is 28 percent above normal volumes, or nearly 3 million visits per minute, at press time. The company tracks the Web traffic for its more than 200 global retailer customers.

Nielsen//NetRatings' Holiday eShopping Index recorded a 29 percent increase from last year -- 13.3 million to 17.2 million -- on Black Friday with U.S. shoppers, the day after Thanksgiving.

Researchers note that whille many people did their shopping in a retail store nearby, a majority first looked to the Web to check prices and product availability.

Online tracker Hitwise notes that Thanksgiving Day visits in the U.S. to online stores surpassed Black Friday for the third year in a row. The research firm tracks the top 100 online retailers for its numbers, ranging from bricks-and-mortar stores such as Best Buy to e-tailers such as Amazon.com and eBay .

"For years, retailers have used offline sales on Black Friday as a barometer for the upcoming holiday season," Bill Tancer, Hitwise general manager of research, said in a statement. "However, as we've seen in previous holiday seasons, market share of online visits to retailers can provide a more complete picture of both online shopping and online research for offline purchases."

For the first time since Hitwise started tracking U.S. Internet users in 2003, Walmart.com (4.85 percent) supplanted Internet darling Amazon.com (2.8 percent) in the market share rankings for Thanksgiving Day, though both fell far behind eBay (16.2 percent).

Nielsen//NetRatings also found eBay at the top of the online shopping list on Black Friday.

According to the firm's statistics, Walmart.com nearly doubled its market share of visits by 98 percent from Wednesday to Thursday, compared to Amazon.com's 20 percent increase during the same timeframe.

All told, a whopping 10.9 percent of all Internet visits for the week ending Saturday went to retail Web sites, according to Hitwise. The top categories for the visits went to computers, appliances and electronics, video and games, department stores, and office supplies.

According to Visa, overall spending increased 15 percent, to more than $7 billion, from last year, as people took their shopping trips from Black Friday into Saturday.

"Consumers don't appear to be suffering from a Black Friday hangover as spending on Visa branded credit and debit cards remained strong on Saturday," Wayne Best, Visa in-house economist, said in a statement. "For Saturday, spending on Visa cards reached nearly $3.2 billion, a 16.4 increase over the same day last year."