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How Online Research Influenced Holiday Shoppers

comScore reported U.S. retail e-commerce spending for the first 25 days of the November through December 2011 holiday season. To-date, $12.7 billion has been spent online, marking a 15 percent increase versus the corresponding days last year.

Black Friday (November 25) saw $816 million in online sales, making it the heaviest online spending day to date in 2011 and representing a 26 percent increase versus Black Friday 2010. Thanksgiving Day (November 24), while traditionally a lighter day for online holiday spending, achieved a strong 18 percent increase to $479 million.

"Despite some analysts' predictions that the flurry of brick-and-mortar retailers opening their doors early for Black Friday would pull dollars from online retail, we still saw a banner day for e-commerce with more than $800 million in spending," said comScore chairman, Gian Fulgoni.

With brick-and-mortar retail also reporting strong gains on Black Friday, it's clear that the heavy promotional activity had a positive impact on both channels. Attention then turned to Cyber Monday, a day that Shop.org says will see eight-in-ten retailers running special online promotions.

Last year, Cyber Monday was the heaviest day of online spending ever, with sales exceeding $1 Billion, and we fully expect to see another record set this year. As the online channel increasingly influences offline shopping behavior, consumers turned to Black Friday sites on the web to conduct research in advance of the day's events.

comScore analyzed several Black Friday deal sites for the five days ending Black Friday (Nov. 21-25, 2011) compared to the corresponding days last year, finding that bfads.net led the pack with 3.9 million unique visitors, up 51 percent versus last year. TheBlackFriday.com followed with 3.2 million visitors while also posting the strongest year-over-year growth at 137 percent.

Fifty million Americans visited online retail sites on Black Friday, representing an increase of 35 percent versus year ago. Each of the top five retail sites achieved double-digit gains in visitors vs. last year, led by Amazon. Walmart ranked second, followed by Best Buy, Target and Apple.

"Each of the top online retailers generated significantly greater Black Friday activity compared to last year," added Mr. Fulgoni. "Amazon.com once again led the pack, with 50 percent more visitors than any other retailer, while also showing the highest growth rate versus last year. However, it is telling that the top multi-channel retailers also showed strong growth in visitors, demonstrating the importance of the online channel to the retail industry as a whole."

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