NEW YORK – The word to remember about Black Friday through Cyber Monday sales results in 2014 is mobile.
IBM reports mobile emerged as a true season game changer: mobile sales increased a whopping 29.3 percent and accounted for one in five transactions. Total sales were up 8.7 percent over 2013, according to IBM.
Analysts say Cyber Monday’s results were so strong they could offset lackluster sales from Black Friday. Total Thanksgiving weekend spending declined 11 percent to $50.9 billion this year, according to the National Retail Federation (NRF). Stores saw about 6 million fewer shoppers than expected.
IBM says the Cyber Monday results indicate shoppers are becoming more digitally savvy with online coupons and rebates to find the best bargains.
Both online and mobile shopping hit record levels on Thanksgiving and Black Friday, and for the first time online traffic from mobile devices was stronger than traditional PCs on Thanksgiving Day, making up 52.1 percent of all online traffic.
The NRF says 45.4 percent of smartphone owners say they used the phone to research purchases. Mobile traffic actually crashed Best Buy’s website, forcing the chain to announce it was "taking proactive measures to restore full performance.”
Overall, IBM says online sales on Thanksgiving jumped 14.3 percent, and then 9.5 percent on Black Friday.
NRF President and CEO Matthew Shay said in a news release that a strengthening economy, a highly competitive environment, early promotions and the ability to shop 24/7 online all contributed to the shift witnessed during the weekend. "We are excited to be witnessing an evolutionary change in holiday shopping by both consumers and retailers, and expect this to trend to continue in the years ahead,” he added.
Ramesh Swamy, a retail analyst at Deloitte, says some Friday shoppers who visited brick-and-mortar stores had already finished all their holiday shopping online on Thursday.
"People are more adept at finding the best deals online. As the channels continue to blur, and as people are able to shop earlier and earlier from their home and mobile devices, and as stores extend promotions of the season, Black Friday itself won’t matter much,” Swamy told Marketing Daily.