Black Friday online shopping tops $1.1bn with a little help from Amazon

Online shoppers were certainly eager to pick up deals this holiday weekend, with comScore reporting $1.198 billion (£730.3 million) in desktop e-commerce sales on Black Friday alone.

As a result, Black Friday was the first billion-dollar day of the 2013 shopping season and a 15 per cent increase over Black Friday 2012. Thanksgiving Day shopping, meanwhile, brought in $766 million (£455.9 million), up 21 per cent over last year.

"While Black Friday – and now Thanksgiving Day – is the traditional kick-off to the brick-and-mortar holiday shopping season, both days continue to grow in importance on the online channel," comScore chairman Gian Fulgoni said in a statement. "Clearly many consumers prefer to avoid the crowds and lines typically associated with Black Friday by shopping from the comfort of their own homes, and we saw a record 66 million Americans do that this year."

The move to open brick-and-mortar stores on Thanksgiving Day, meanwhile, had "a spillover effect on the online channel," he said.

We also saw a significant move towards the introduction of the retail holiday in the UK Walmart-owned Asda offered hefty discounts on many of its consumer electronics and other items, in one store causing fist fights in the aisles.

But where were people shopping? Amazon was the most visited online retail site on Black Friday, followed by eBay, Walmart, Best Buy, and Target, according to comScore.

Walmart said it processed nearly 400 million page views on Thanksgiving Day, with mobile making up 53 per cent of its total traffic, "the highest contribution from mobile we've seen to date," according to a spokesperson.

As for what people were buying, apparel and accessories was the most popular category with about 28 per cent of purchases. But computer hardware (19 per cent) and consumer electronics (7 per cent) rounded out the top three, comScore found.

According to the Consumer Electronics Association's (CEA) annual Black Friday Survey, 35 per cent of holiday weekend shoppers purchased a consumer electronics device. Among that 35 per cent, 29 per cent bought a tablet. Also on the list were headphones (24 per cent), video game hardware (21 per cent), smartphones (19 per cent), and laptop/notebook computers (17 per cent).

About 55 per cent of tech shoppers did so online, a 10 per cent increase from 2012 "and a new record," the CEA said.

It's not over yet, of course, with Cyber Monday looming. "Shopping intentions for Cyber Monday are the highest they have ever been in three years with roughly 18 per cent of consumers planning to continue the Thanksgiving shopping weekend," the CEA said.