CNN Money
(Image credit: CNN Money)

Black Friday numbers are in. ShopperTrack reports that retail shopping went up by 0.3% over last year, with traffic up 2.2%. Meh. But, what’s most notable as I read these articles are the numbers associated with ecommerce. This year, online sales were up 9% (Comscore).

So … I decided to refrain from finishing this blog until Cyber Monday stats came in – because my expectation was that sales would really surge here.  Guess what? They did – 19.4% over last year.

Interestingly, according to PCWorld, online sales are not necessarily at the expense of brick and mortar.  NPD reports that while online sales grew by 44% on Black Friday, brick and mortar retail shopping also grew by 6%. That means online represents a channel that can add to sales volume, not completely shift it. That’s significant.

That being said, there’s a certain nostalgia (and “Deal Draw”) about 4am Black Friday shopping. Plenty will still do it (according to the NRF, by 4am, 24% of Black Friday shoppers were already in the stores – a 9.5% lift over last year). Consumers, possibly more than ever, want to score a deal. Without a shred of doubt, that extends to the Web. The lift in ecommerce over the holiday season is a clear sign that consumers’ desire to find those deals online is growing quickly.

Certainly, I’m not declaring anything here that we don’t really already know. Ecommerce has been a center of attention for retailers for several years now. Brands that put attention (and a lot of it) to driving ecommerce reap huge success. My suggestion is that the pace of interest is moving at a speedy clip – keeping up and making the right decisions about where to spend marketing budget has never been more critical.

Even more telling – the increase in purchase via mobile devices took a huge turn upward. PayPal recently suggested an increase of 310% on Black Friday over last year. And Cyber Monday mobile purchases represented 4% of total sales (CNN Money). That’s not a number to sneeze at. Consumers want the ability to purchase in as many places as they have access to. Beyond brand affinity, it turns into the deal combined with the convenience of the transaction.

The message is this: holiday behavior is an indicator of broad shopping behavior and interest. Every year has shown a notable uptick in online sales and a shift in the patterns of buying behavior that increasingly include online and mobile at some step of the process. Brands will be wise to turn to highly-integrated digital campaigns not just this holiday season, but looking deep into 2011.

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