The sluggish economy and Thanksgiving Day competition from traditional stores won't slow online sales on Cyber Monday and beyond, analysts say, as Web shoppers hunt for bargains early in the holiday shopping season.
Cybersales in the U.S. on Black Friday, the day after Thanksgiving and one of the big days of the year for retailers, pulled ahead of last year's figures. And online sales on Thanksgiving also topped last year, as more consumers jumped on the Web soon after — or before — polishing off their turkey dinners.
The strong early returns opens the door for another record Cyber Monday, says Jay Henderson, strategy director for IBM Smarter Commerce. The IBM e-commerce services unit tracks sales across 500 retail websites.
Web-based sales on Black Friday as of 3 p.m. ET were up 20% vs. the year-earlier period, says IBM. And U.S. online sales on Thanksgiving rose 17.4%.
"The strong sales on Thanksgiving are an indicator that we should see strong sales for Black Friday as well as Cyber Monday," he told IBD.
The Monday after Thanksgiving, dubbed Cyber Monday, is among the biggest online shopping days of the year.
Web traffic on PriceGrabber, a leading comparison-shopping site, was up 24% on Thanksgiving and early on Black Friday vs. the year-earlier period. The upward trend should continue as consumers shop for the best prices for consumer electronics, which are the most sought-after products so far this year, Steve Krenzer, PriceGrabber's chief executive, told IBD.
"I think Cyber Monday will definitely be a record," he said. "We have seen increasing consumer confidence the last three or four months, and an increase in people shopping online as opposed to doing all of their shopping in brick and mortar stores.
EBay (EBAY), the world's largest online auction seller, and Amazon.com (AMZN), the leading e-tailer, also appeared to cash in big on Thanksgiving. The monetary value of transactions on eBay on Thanksgiving jumped 26.6% vs. last year's holiday, says ChannelAdvisor, an e-commerce services firm. At Amazon, transaction valued jumped 34.9%.
Mobile transactions also swung upward. Product sales on mobile devices using eBay's PayPal, the Web's top online payment service, jumped 190% as of 2 p.m. ET on Black Friday vs. the year-earlier period. They jumped 173% on Thanksgiving.
More employees are expected to use their fast Internet connections at work to shop for products on Monday, says PayPal spokesman Anuj Nayar. Faster Internet service at home also is boosting sales.
"We're seeing a fundamental shift," he said. "It's not Cyber Monday. It starts the day before Thanksgiving and runs through Thanksgiving and this entire weekend. Cyber Monday is just another major shopping day on the Internet calendar.
U.S. online sales for November and December will jump 17%, says tracker ComScore. Forrester Research expects a 15% increase. But offline same-store sales are forecast to rise just 3%.