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Black Friday online shopping leaps 26 percent

Amazon was the most popular online retail site, and all told, consumers spent $816 million on Friday, ComScore reports. Now, on to Cyber Monday.

It appears online retailers will have more to be jolly about this holiday shopping season.

Consumers in the U.S. spent $816 million online on Black Friday, a 26 percent increase over 2010's Black Friday, according to ComScore data released today. The results buttress numbers released Saturday by IBM Coremetrics that showed online sales on Black Friday grew by 24.3 percent compared with the same period last year.

Some 50 million visited online retail sites Friday, a 35 percent increase over last year, ComScore reported. Excluding auction sites such as eBay, the most visited retail site was Amazon, followed by Wal-Mart and Best Buy--all of which recorded double-digit percentage gains over last year.

"Each of the top online retailers generated significantly greater Black Friday activity compared to last year," ComScore Chairman Gian Fulgoni said in a statement announcing the results. "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."

Consumers also ramped up their Thanksgiving Day online shopping, spending $479 million, an increase of 18 percent over Thanksgiving Day 2010. Online spending for the month of November up to Friday hit $12.7 billion, a 15 percent increase over November 2010.

"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," Fulgoni said.

And now for Cyber Monday
As impressive as these numbers are, the next test for online retailers will be tomorrow, aka Cyber Monday, the post-holiday occasion when U.S. consumers are said to take their shopping lists with them to the office.

And it could be a banner Cyber Monday. Shop.org, the digital arm of the National Retail Foundation, predicts that 122.9 million Americans plan to shop on Cyber Monday this year, up from the 106.9 million last year. Nearly eight out of 10 online retailers will have promotions waiting for those eager shoppers, Shop.org. says.

Mobile devices will play an ever larger role for consumers this time out. Some 14.5 percent of respondents to a BigResearch survey said they plan to use a smartphone or other mobile gadget to do Cyber Monday shopping in 2011, which Shop.org extrapolates to 17.8 million consumers. That more than doubles the figures from last year--6.9 percent and 7.3 million.

"With promotions like flash sales that only last an hour or deep discounts on selected lines, shoppers know they can win big on Cyber Monday," Vicki Cantrell, executive director of Shop.org, said in a statement today. "In addition to putting the finishing touches on their websites, retailers have invested heavily in mobile apps and related content as the appetite for Cyber Monday shopping through smartphones and tablets continues to rise."