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Canada’s Cyber Monday sales hit record

Workers sort packages at the FedEx hub at Los Angeles International Airport on Monday, Dec. 2, 2013, in Los Angeles. Millions of Americans took advantage of online deals ranging from free shipping to hundreds of dollars off electronics and half-price clothing Monday, which was expected to be the busiest online shopping day of the year. (AP Photo/Jae C. Hong)

Canadian sales figures for Cyber Monday are in, and they point to epic growth in online sales. That it was the biggest Canadian Cyber Monday in history was no surprise. The degree of growth in online shopping, however, was, and the latest results reinforce the fundamental change currently underway in Canadian retail.

Figures released by Moneris, the largest Canadian credit and debit card processor, show Canadian online sales were up 29.33 per cent on Cyber Monday compared to last year. The online growth outpaced traditional retail, as Canadian Black Friday sales rose 19.19 per cent year-over-year.

Biggest online shopping day ever

Results north of the border outpace even American online shopping trends on both Black Friday and Cyber Monday, which is notable given the fact that both of these holidays cue off of U.S.Thanksgiving. Data from comScore shows American online spending on Cyber Monday rose 18 per cent compared to last year, to US$1.735 billion. While these figures are from desktop computers only, they nevertheless made this year’s Cyber Monday the heaviest online shopping day in U.S. history. It was also the second day this holiday season to record over US$1 billion in sales, after the $1.198 billion tallied on Black Friday.

The Moneris results point to some emerging trends within specific retail categories in Canada. Sales of sporting goods showed the most growth of any category in online retail, rocketing 105.46 per cent in total dollars spent. Shoes weren’t far behind at 93.43 per cent. The two categories contributed to a jump of 39.23 per cent in specialty retail sales. Apparel was also up by 27.33 per cent over Cyber Monday 2012.

The numbers highlight where sales are cutting into traditional in-store activity. A 45.82 per cent increase in online consumer electronics sales, which include televisions and audio equipment, contrasted with a 35.02 per cent drop in in-store Black Friday sales for the same category. This sector in particular has seen aggressive online deals being pushed by online retailers like Amazon and eBay and traditional department and big box stores, as well.

“This year's Black Friday and Cyber Monday were a real win-win for Canadian shoppers and merchants, alike,” Moneris Chief Sales and Marketing Office Jeff Guthrie said in a statement. “While shoppers took advantage of pre-holiday bargains, merchants boosted their end-of-year revenues, with nearly all retailers seeing their sales increase significantly compared to 2012. This spending spike might be an early sign of a busier holiday shopping season this year.”

Mobile takes the lead

Additional figures from the U.S. point to the growth of mobile as an emerging trend in online retail. Data released by IBM shows mobile sales accounted for 17 per cent of all Cyber Monday online sales, an increase of 55 per cent year-over-year. Mobile traffic rose 45 per cent over Cyber Monday 2012, and accounted for almost one-third of all online traffic. The specific device in use played a role, as well. With 19.7 per cent of online traffic, smartphones outpaced tablets (11.5 per cent) when online shoppers were researching and browsing. But tablets turned the tables when it came time to actually buy something, accounting for 11.7 per cent of online sales compared to just 5.5 per cent for smartphones. Tablet-based shoppers also spent more: an average of $126.30 per order. Smartphone users tallied only $106.49.

The IBM figures suggest online sales growth is being fuelled by aggressive moves by virtual retailers to attract increasingly savvy shoppers. Retailers sent 77 per cent more push notifications during the five-day holiday period on average than they did over the past two months. Daily retail-focused app installations on mobile devices were also up 29 per cent in the same period, all of which points to continued growth in online retail through the rest of the holiday shopping season and beyond.

Carmi Levy is a London, Ont.-based independent technology analyst and journalist. The opinions expressed are his own. carmilevy@yahoo.ca

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