Tech Check

Tech Comes to Holiday Shopping's Rescue?

The numbers are in and they are painting some intriguing sub-stories for Black Friday shopping for the likes of Apple, eBay, Amazon and so many others.

On the one hand, Experian Hitwise says overall online traffic was down a big 15 percent year over year on Black Friday.

That's a surprise.

But comScore says spending jumped 11 percent. Fewer shoppers spending more.

Not surprising, Hitwise says was the most popular online shopping destination, attracting 15 percent of the traffic. It's the fifth straight year Walmart has sat at the top. The company was followed closely by Amazon with better than 12 percent, and then Best Buy with over 6 percent. (The market research doesn't include Ebay.)

Facebook saw the biggest spike in traffic, up more than 500 percent year over year.

And while Amazon attracted a lot of traffic, eBay made a lot of sales. Company CEO John Donahoe told me earlier today in an exclusive interview that the more than 1 million items were sold on the site on Friday, better than last year's action.

Paypal saw a 20 percent jump in transaction traffic over 2008, and while it's less than the 34 percent the service saw from 2007 to 2008, Donahoe says last year's numbers were heavily skewed because of huge online promotions. He's thrilled with the 20 percent and says it's better than expected.

Ebay's CEO on Shopping Season

The real growth is in eBay's mobile service.

EBay released an app for the iPhone that's been downloaded 5 million times.

Shoppers can update information just by shaking their phone and iPhones were shaken 50,000 times in short order.

Donahoe says nearly a half billion dollars in sales have been generated from the iPhone app alone, a pretty staggering number.

Consumer Nation Holiday Central Edition

And mobile shopping has absolutely spiked.

Ebay tracked nearly triple the transactions on mobile PayPal on Black Friday compared to a normal Friday shopping day.

Electronics are selling big. Flat panel TVs, game consoles and smart phones did well, but Piper Jaffray says its channel-checks showed heavy demand for all things Apple. Apple stores were crowded, and higher margin MacBook Pros and iPod Touches, along with iPhone, seemed to enjoy robust sales. The firm reiterated its $250 target on Apple and says the trends it saw Friday gave it no reason to ratchet down sales projections for Apple's key products.

Donahoe tells me he's cautiously optimistic about holiday shopping, but the season seems off to a respectable start. He never relaxes, he says, but he likes what he sees so far. And with all indications suggesting that discounts will only get deeper as Christmas draws near, shoppers who missed out on some deals on Black Friday will have more opportunities to save, and spend, in the coming weeks.

Jeb Goldman checking out Black Friday deals
Photo: Jim Goldman | CNBC

As for me, here's a photo is of my 8-year son Jeb who has discovered eBay.

That was him Black Friday morning, comfortably shopping on my laptop on the couch.

He knows the "watch" feature to help me keep track of what he wants.

Thankfully, he has yet to discover the "buy it now" button.

Questions?  Comments?