comScore: $6 billion in ‘Cyber Week’ online spending sets record
Reston, Va. — Retail e-commerce spending for the first 32 days of the November – December 2011 holiday season totaled $18.7 billion, a 15% increase versus the corresponding days last year, according to comScore.
The most recent week saw three individual days eclipse $1 billion in spending, led by Cyber Monday, which became the heaviest online spending day on record at $1.25 billion. Tuesday, Nov. 29 reached $1.12 billion, while Wednesday, Nov. 30 reached $1.03 billion. These three billion-dollar spending days currently rank as three of the four heaviest online spending days in history (with Cyber Monday 2010 being the other).
One of the most prevalent holiday season promotions used by online retailers is free shipping, which typically peaks around the Cyber Monday period. Throughout the 2011 holiday season, more than half of all transactions have included free shipping with rates increasing later into the season, comScore said. The week of Thanksgiving (week ending Nov. 27) saw free shipping occur on 64.4% of transactions, while Cyber Week has maintained a similar level at 63.2%. In each case, these rates were approximately 10 percentage points higher than last year.
“Free shipping is one of the most important incentives that online retailers must provide during the holiday season to ensure that shoppers will convert into buyers," said comScore chairman Gian Fulgoni. "Consumers have come to expect free shipping during the holiday promotion periods, and retailers, in turn, have realized that they must offer this incentive if they want to maximize their share of consumer spending — especially at the outset of the shopping season. In fact, more than three-quarters of consumers say that free shipping is important to them when making an online purchase, and nearly half say they will abandon their shopping cart at checkout if they find free shipping is not being offered."
Black Friday breakdown reveals 2012 opportunity
As retailers assess what worked and what didn’t in terms of Black Friday promotions and Thanksgiving weekend sales, overall there are a few things that stand out.
The early opening hours, at midnight for Target and many others, made it easier for more people to participate while unseasonably warm weather nationwide contributed to an unprecedented level of shopper traffic the National Retail Federation put just north of 80 million. Not surprisingly, the huge volume of people translated to record sales and the momentum carried over to Cyber Monday when a new online sales record also was set.
The other positive takeaway that didn’t get much attention is the fact that no one died or was seriously injured, and there were relatively few incidents of shoppers gone wild. Granted, those instances where shoppers did behave poorly quickly found there way on to YouTube and the footage is disturbing to watch. However, if you think about the mass of humanity that turns out for Black Friday and the competitive instincts that kick in when cash-strapped shoppers vie for limited quantities of discounted merchandise it is surprising there weren’t more incidents of quick-tempered shoppers pushing, shoving, getting knocked down, tearing apart displays and generally behaving in a manner you can only hope they regretted the next day.
Nevertheless, the onus is always going to be on the company to provide a safe environment in which customers can shop. That means thinking through every potential thing that could go wrong when formulating a Black Friday strategy, but even then it seems there will always be some shoppers whose behavior defies logic and they will be the one who wind up on YouTube.
Walgreens November sales up 4.2%
Deerfield, Ill. — Walgreens reported that for November same-store sales rose 1.8% while total sales climbed 4.2% to $6.09 billion, from $5.84 billion in the year-ago period.
Comparable pharmacy sales rose 1.2%, while total pharmacy sales rose 3.4%.
Total sales for the first quarter of fiscal 2012, which ended Nov. 30, were $18.16 billion, up 4.7% from $17.34 billion in the first quarter of fiscal 2011. Same-store sales increased 2.5%, while front-end comp-sales for the quarter also increased 2.5%.