IBM Coremetrics Benchmark Report announced a 39.3% increase in online Thanksgiving day spending that served as a prelude to an almost 25% increase in online sales growth over last year's Black Friday numbers. The group also tracked significant shifts in shopper spending that included a new class of "Mobile Bargain Hunter," armed with hot consumer devices to bag the best deals.

Mobile Bargain Hunters Stalk Best Deals

IBM said Black Friday witnessed the arrival of the "mobile deal seeker" using the latest mobile devices as a research tool for in-store and online bargains as mobile traffic was boosted by 14.3% on Black Friday 2011 (compared to 2010 numbers at just 5.6%).

John Squire, Chief Strategy Officer, IBM Smarter Conference said

This year marked Thanksgiving's emergence as the first big spending day of the 2011 holiday season with a record number of consumers shifting their focus from turkey to tablets and the search for the best deals. This momentum continued into Black Friday where the big winners were those retailers that delivered a smarter commerce experience with compelling, relevant deals that people could easily access from their channel of choice."

Other Findings

Other findings from IBM Coremetrics include:

  • Mobile Sales (transactions on mobile devices) up 9.8% from 3.2% last year
  • The Apple Shopper led the crowd with iOS devices (iPhone and iPad) ranking first (at 5.4%) and second (4.8%), with Android just behind (at 4.1%) for consumers shopping on all mobile devices
  • The Apple iOS device share was ranked at 10.2% collectively for all online retail traffic on Black Friday
  • The iPad factor: Shoppers using the iPad led to more retail purchases more often per visit than other mobile devices
  • iPad conversion rates reached 4.6%, almost double the conversion rate number for overall mobile devices rated at 2.8%

The group also found a strong mobile element to "surgical shopping." IBM said "shoppers demonstrated a laser focus that surpassed that of other online shoppers with a 41.3% bounce rate on mobile devices vs. online shopping rates of 33.1%."

Learning Opportunities

On the influence of social networks, IBM said that of the group of online shoppers studied, those referred by social networks generated 0.53% of all online sales on Black Friday. Of these, Facebook led the group, with 75% of all social network traffic coming from the giant social site. 

There was also a 110% boost in social media chatter, or increase in discussion volume over the 2010 numbers.  IBM said discussion topics on social media sites just prior to Black Friday focused on tips to avoid the rush, out-of-stock concerns on selected items, wait times and parking.

The IBM findings come from its Coremetrics Benchmark, what the company calls the only analytics-based, peer-level benchmarking solution that measures online marketing results.  IBM said this includes real-time sales data from the web sites of more than 500 leading U.S. retailers.

All of the data is aggregated and anonymous.  Analysis of public social media content using IBM Cognos Consumer Insight also provided additional insight into underlying holiday shopping trends, hot topics of discussion, and consumer sentiment.