Black Friday, Cyber Monday see boost in online shopping

More and more consumers are headed to the Internet on Black Friday, ditching crowded stores and malls during the shopping frenzy in a trend experts say is here to stay and growing.

Black Friday retail sales online topped $1 billion this year for the first time as more consumers used the Internet to shop, according to data from comScore Inc, which tracks and analyzes digital trends.

"Despite the frenzy of media coverage surrounding the importance of Black Friday in the brick-and-mortar world, we continue to see this shopping day become more and more prominent in the e-commerce channel — particularly among those who prefer to avoid crowds at the stores," said Gian Fulgoni, comScore's chairman, in a statement on Sunday.

Online sales on Black Friday were $1.04 billion, up 26 per cent from sales of $816 million on the same day last year, the data shows. Amazon was the most-visited retail website on Black Friday followed by Wal-Mart, Best Buy, Target and Apple, comScore said. Digital content and subscriptions, which includes e-books, digital music and video, was the most popular product category.

The online trend is seen growing in Canada as well.

Nearly 60 per cent of Canadians are expected to use the internet for their holiday shopping, up from 49 per cent last year, according to a recent report from Deloitte that forecasts a modest 1 to 2 per cent sales growth this holiday season.

Targeting online shopping behaviors is a crucial part in finding the right retail strategy to decipher how customers shop versus how they browsed a decade ago, said Kim MacDonald, a retail sector specialist at Deloitte.

"I think it will grow over the next few years," she said of online shopping.

"I think the consumer is very interested in convenience. If you can get the same price, the same variety, some aspect of free shipping, and you can do it sitting on your chesterfield as opposed to dealing with the crowds on Black Friday, I think it's very appealing," she added.

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