Shoppers' growing aversion to the retail stampede known as Black Friday may be powering a surge in online shopping, data from a retail tracking firm suggested on Saturday, aided by a flurry of promotions and mobile incentives.
Data from Custora said Internet sales were up 20.6 percent on Black Friday compared to a year ago. If the data holds up, Friday's online sales may even surpass 2013's Cyber Monday to become "the biggest shopping day in U.S. history."
Custora added a caveat, however: Monday's cyber sales are "all but certain" to beat Black Friday's web-fueled surge.
The report comes as more consumers, perhaps growing weary of the early bird sales and the skirmishes that break out over them, are resorting to the web to satisfy their holiday shopping needs. Those who opted to visit physical stores took advantage of early sales, which many retailers began offering well in advance of Black Friday.
The shifting of deals and promotions pushed up store traffic on Thanksgiving Day by 27.3 percent, noted retail analytics firm ShopperTrak, but dampened Black Friday visits by 5.6 percent.
This year, social disturbances may also have played a modest role. Protests over the decision not to indict a Ferguson, Missouri police officer over the shooting of an unarmed teen impeded traffic in key U.S. cities and disrupted some Black Friday shopping.
The firm noted that average order value fell 2.3 percent from 2013, underscoring how online shoppers were slightly more frugal – or at least hunting for value.
Still, the proliferation of smartphones and tablets had a noticeable impact on Internet shopping, according to Custora. Their data showed that mobile orders accounted for almost one third of online shopping. That was an improvement over the 22.5 percent who used mobile devices to shop on Black Friday 2013.
Finally, Custora said Apple devices still rule the roost. Of those using a handheld device to shop, the maker of the iPad and iPhone accounted for nearly 77 percent of those sales, while Android-powered devices had a market share of less than 23 percent. However, Apple's share of mobile sales tumbled sharply from the 83.4 percent it had on Black Friday 2013.