The story isn’t e-commerce. The story is how the internet (and mobile access in particular) is affecting retail sales overall and especially in stores. ComScore estimated 2016 Thanksgiving and Black Friday sales of roughly $1.67 billion. That’s a lot of money to be sure. But it’s a fraction of offline spending.
The National Retail Federation (NRF) estimated that overall Thanksgiving weekend sales (Thursday through Sunday) were roughly $59.1 billion. That figure apparently includes online spending:
According to the survey, a record 247 million shoppers visited stores and websites over Black Friday weekend, up from 226 million last year. Making sure to take advantage of retailers’ promotions to the full extent, the average holiday shopper spent $423 this weekend, up from $398 last year. Total spending reached an estimated $59.1 billion.
This is apples to oranges . . . but if we add almost another billion dollars to the online total above (to account for online sales over the weekend) and deduct a total of $2.5 billion from the NRF number we come up with something like $56.6 billion in local/offline retail sales.
This is rough math (and it excludes “Cyber Monday,” as does the NRF figure) but it would mean that e-commerce was just under 4.5% of the total value of retail sales for the weekend. That’s slightly below what the US Commerce Department says is the overall percentage of e-commerce spending vs. traditional retail (5.1%).
There’s no news in those numbers essentially. Instead the real news is mobile and how consumers are using smartphones and tablets in stores and otherwise. According to a Bizrate survey (n=10,000), 13% of “online buyers” who shopped with a mobile device over the Thanksgiving weekend did so in stores.
Overall Bizrate says that 25% of e-commerce buyers shopped on a mobile device. Of this group:
- 70% used mobile devices to make a purchase
- 60% used mobile devices to browse or research products
- 56% used mobile devices to check prices
- 37% used mobile devices to read product/store reviews
Retailers simply have to address this mobile device audience. They’re more inclined to purchase and generally more affluent than the population as a whole.