Cyber Monday outlook: $1 billion in sales expected

More than 50 million Americans visited online retail sites on Black Friday, which is so far the heaviest online spending day to date in 2011. But not for long, comScore predicts.

Industry watchers expect online sales to surpass $1 billion today, Cyber Monday.

U.S. consumers have spent $12.7 billion online since Nov. 1, marking a 15% increase compared to the corresponding days last year. On Thanksgiving, online shoppers spent $479 million, which is up 18% from last year's holiday sales tally, comScore reports. On Black Friday, the day after Thanksgiving, U.S. e-commerce sales jumped to $816 million, which is up 26% from last year. (comScore's e-commerce spending figures exclude auction sites and travel sales.)

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More than 50 million Americans visited online retail sites on Black Friday, which is so far the heaviest online spending day to date in 2011. But it won't hold the record for long, comScore predicts. The Web measurement firm expects today's tally to surpass it. Last year, online sales on Cyber Monday exceeded $1 billion, "and we fully expect to see another record set this year," said Gian Fulgoni, comScore chairman, in a statement.

Amazon was the most visited retail property on Black Friday, followed by Walmart, Best Buy, Target and Apple.

"Each of the top online retailers generated significantly greater Black Friday activity compared to last year," Fulgoni said. "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."

Mobile shoppers played a key role in the Black Friday shopping surge, according to IBM. The number of online shoppers who used a mobile device to visit a retailer's site increased to 14.3% on Black Friday compared to 5.6% in 2010. In terms of money spent, IBM reports that mobile sales as a percentage of total online shopping sales climbed to 9.8% from 3.2% a year earlier. [See also: "Shoppers with iPads spend more"]

Meanwhile, a number of leading retailers' websites ran slow and suffered periodic outages during the online shopping feast on Thanksgiving and Black Friday, according to data from Compuware Gomez.

Compuware keeps tabs on retail website performance via its Gomez Performance Satisfaction Index (GPSI). Overall, the top 50 retailers experienced a 19% degradation in performance satisfaction, on average, during the time period beginning at 8 p.m. EST on Thursday and ending at 8 a.m. EST Friday, Compuware reports. Performance improved somewhat on the day after Thanksgiving, when the top 50 retailers logged an 11% degradation in performance satisfaction for the entire day on Black Friday.

For the full day on Black Friday, from midnight to 11:59 p.m. EST, page load time (response time) spiked by 21% for the top 50 retailers and by 11% for the top 10. In terms of performance, the top-ranking e-commerce websites on Black Friday were JC Penney, Apple and Dell.

Mobile websites for the top retailers held steady, with only one retailer's site showing a decrease in performance satisfaction on Black Friday, according to Compuware. The top-ranking e-commerce mobile sites on Black Friday were Sears, Amazon and Best Buy.

Ann Bednarz covers IT careers, outsourcing and Internet culture for Network World. Follow Ann on Twitter at @annbednarz and check out her blog, Occupational Hazards. Her email address is abednarz@nww.com.

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