ComScore: Black Friday e-commerce hits $534 million

The Thanksgiving weekend was all right, according to ComScore and the National Retail Federation. Predictions for the entire holiday shopping season aren't so rosy.

It wasn't a blockbuster, but Black Friday wasn't a bust, either.

ComScore on Sunday reported that online, nontravel retail sales on the Friday after Thanksgiving, traditionally a big day for consumer spending, reached $534 million. That's up from the same day a year ago, but just barely--online retail sales rose just 1 percent, from $531 million.

E-commerce

On Saturday, comparison-shopping site PriceGrabber.com said that Web shopping traffic on Black Friday was up 11 percent. The Nintendo Wii was the most popular item , according to both PriceGrabber and eBay.

Sales on Thanksgiving Day itself rose 6 percent to $288 million, up from $272 million in 2007, ComSore said.

But for the four weeks of November through Friday the 28th, retail e-commerce dropped to $10.4 billion, down 4 percent from $10.8 billion for the same period in 2007, according to ComScore.

For the full holiday season, even Friday's slight gain may look good. ComScore predicted that for November and December, online sales will be flat compared with 2007, coming in again at $29.2 billion.

A somewhat cheerier report Sunday came from the National Retail Federation. The NRF's Black Friday Weekend survey--covering Thursday, Friday, Saturday, and predictions for Sunday--posits 172 million shoppers visiting Web sites and brick-and-mortar stores for the four days, up from 147 million last year.

Holiday sales will rise 2.2 percent this year to $470.4 billion, the NRF projects.

"Pent-up demand on electronics and clothing, plus unparalleled bargains on this season's hottest items helped drive shopping all weekend," NRF CEO Tracy Mullin said in a statement. "Holiday sales are not expected to continue at this brisk pace, but it is encouraging that Americans seem excited to go shopping again."

The NRF put total sales for the four-day period at $41 billion, with shoppers spending an average of $372.57, up 7 percent from $347.55 a year earlier.

The retail group said that 36 percent of shoppers purchased consumer electronics. Slightly over half of shoppers bought clothing and accessories, and 39 percent bought books, DVDs, CDs, and video games .

The next big test of how online commerce is faring in a deeply troubled economy will be almost immediate: Cyber Monday, the first Monday after the Thanksgiving weekend.

"It's probable that on Black Friday consumers responded positively to the very aggressive promotions and discounts being offered in retail stores," ComScore Chairman Gian Fulgoni said in a statement, "so it will be important to see how they respond to similarly attractive deals being offered online on Cyber Monday, the traditional kick-off to the online holiday shopping season."

Purchases from the workplace account for approximately half of all e-commerce spending, ComScore said.

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About the author

Jonathan Skillings is managing editor of CNET News, based in the Boston bureau. He's been with CNET since 2000, after a decade in tech journalism at the IDG News Service, PC Week, and an AS/400 magazine. He's also been a soldier and a schoolteacher, and will always be a die-hard fan of jazz, the brassier the better.

 

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