Black Friday’s $1 billion online blast

America’s Black Friday online shopping hit a new spending high, raking in 12% of what South Africa makes online in a year – in one day.

New data from internet tech tracking company, ComScore, has revealed that Americans spent over $1 billion in online shopping on Black Friday (23 November 2012).

This is a significant increase from online spending on the same day last year (2011), when e-commerce racked up a total of $816 million in sales.

Black Friday online sales were up 26% compared to reports of retail sales, down 1.8%, ComScore said.

For the holiday season, to-date, $13.7 billion has been spent online, according to ComScore, marking a 16% increase versus the corresponding days last year.

Of the $13.7 billion spent, $1.042 billion was spent on Black Friday – a 7.6% chunk of the total online spend.

With an estimated total of $59.1 billion spent on the day, according to the National Retail Federation, it’s clear retail still ruled the day, however.

57.3 million Americans visited online retail sites on Black Friday, according to ComScore – representing an increase of 18% versus year ago. This out of a total of 247 million shoppers tracked by the National Retail Federation.

Amazon ranked as the most visited online retail site on Black Friday while also posting the highest year-over-year visitor growth rate among the top five retailers.

“Digital Content & Subscriptions is leading the way as the top-growing online retail product category (up 29% versus year ago) as the rapid adoption of smartphones, tablets and e-readers continues to drive demand for digital books, audio and video content,” ComScore said.

What’s in a billion?

While the USA and South Africa’s online economies are not directly comparible – a side-by-side look puts the Black Friday craze into a more sober perspective.

E-commerce is a rapidly growing platform in South Africa, showing growth at a rate of almost 30% annually, according to data from World Wide Worx in May (2012).

According to World Wide Worx, South Africa’s Internet economy currently contributes 2% to the country’s GDP, and is forecast to reach 2.5% by 2016.

In monetary terms, that means that, currently, South Africa’s e-commerce environment is currently contributing approximately $8.15 billion to the GDP*.

In comparative terms, this means that Americans spent 12.8% of South Africa’s total annual online spend in one day – and surpassed it by $5.5 billion in one month.

A few South African retailers and online retailers also jumped on the “Black Friday” bandwagon, with DionWired, Incredible Connection, Takealot and Esquire all running specials on the day.

Demand for the sales on Takealot was so great that the e-retailer struggled to cope with the very high load on its website, causing lengthy downtime.

* South Africa GDP = $408.16 billion (2011, World Bank).

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Black Friday’s $1 billion online blast