More people than ever chose to let their fingers do their holiday shopping. Consumers spent $250 million online on Friday, a 41% increase over the $174 million they spent online on the same day a year ago, according to ComScore Networks, a Reston, Va., company that tracks Web-site activity. For the November-December holiday season, online spending is expected to surpass $15 billion--marking as much as a 26% increase over last year, ComScore said.
Historically, the post-Thanksgiving weekend isn't especially strong for online spending because so many people are out in stores. The busiest shopping day on the Web, according to Verisign, is the Monday after Thanksgiving, when consumers get back to their high-speed, broadband Internet connections at the office.
There was nothing dark about Black Friday for online retailers, though, Web-traffic watcher Nielsen/Netrankings announced Monday. According to the company's Holiday eShopping Index, the number of unique online shoppers Friday, November 26--the so-called "Black Friday," and one of the year's biggest shopping days--climbed 11 percent over the same day in 2003, to 13.3 million people. "Even diehard holiday shoppers that weather the Black Friday crowds at sunrise know to research the Web for product selection and price comparisons before heading out to the mall," said Ken Cassar, Nielsen/NetRatings' director of client analytics. "Online shoppers deluged the Web sites of their favorite brick-and-mortar stores, as well as [other] online retail resources." The top 10 sites Friday were eBay, Amazon, Wal-Mart, Target, BestBuy, Yahoo! Shopping, Shopping.com, Overstock.com, Sears, and ToysRUs. eBay easily took the No. 1 spot, with 5.2 million unique visitors that day; second-place Amazon, for instance, had fewer than half (2.6 million) as many visitors.