Online sales boost Black Friday

Updated: 2014-12-02 11:33

By Lian Zi in San Francisco(China Daily USA)

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Despite 11 percent drop from 2013, Web purchasing helps compensate

The future of Black Friday shopping appears to be online, with Chinese consumers playing a larger role.

Overall, Black Friday sales declined about 11 percent compared with 2013, according to the National Retail Federation (NRF).

Online sales, however, were up 14.3 percent, according to IBM Digital Analytics Benchmark.

The NRF reported that 33.7 million people went shopping in the US from Thanksgiving Day through Sunday, 5.2 percent less than 2013. Total Thanksgiving weekend spending fell about 11 percent to $50.9 billion. Average spending per person was about $380, down 6.4 percent from last year.

"A strengthening economy that changes consumers' reliance on deep discounts, a highly competitive environment, early promotions and the ability to shop 24/7 online all contributed to the shift witnessed this weekend," said NRF President and CEO Matthew Shay.

"We're seeing a big jump in the growth of Black Friday sales to Chinese consumers compared to the previous year," said Michael DeSimone, CEO of New York-based Borderfree, which describes itself as a "leader in cross-border ecommerce services."

Some seismic shifts appear to be taking shape in the retail sales world. Mobile shopping accounted for 52.1 percent of all online Black Friday traffic, outpacing desktops for the first time. Mobile sales made up 27.9 percent of online sales, up 28.2 percent.

Apple's iOS provided the most mobile traffic, by about 3 to 1, over Google Android-driven traffic, IBM Digital Analytics Benchmark data showed. But Apple's share was down from 83.4 percent last year, as Android's rose from 15.8 percent to 22.7 percent, according to

In a Black Friday promotion, US retailers Saks Fifth Avenue, Neiman Marcus, Bloomingdale's, Macy's, iHerb, Gilt, Ashford, Ann Taylor, American Apparel and Aeropostale teamed up with Borderfree and Alipay, which enabled online shoppers in China to purchase goods through Alipay's ePass in yuan. Alipay is China's largest third-party payment service.

"Our five participating retailers which are aggressively targeting their deals and promotions to shoppers in China have received extremely positive feedback from Chinese customers about how much easier it is to make purchases online," DeSimone told China Daily.

According to Alipay US, Ashford broke its Black Friday sales record at noon on Nov 28: Shoppers from China made up 40 percent of all traffic after midnight.

Women's and men's clothing as well as accessories and handbags are the most popular categories on Black Friday for Chinese online shoppers, DeSimone said.

The ability to ship internationally is a good starting point, but to get the Chinese online shopper to go from browsing to purchasing, American retailers need to create a familiar experience that puts shoppers at ease and makes them feel confident they will get their money's worth, DeSimone said.

"To create this confidence, retailers should provide key text, like product details and promotions, in-language, pricing in yuan, and local payment and shipping options the Chinese shopper knows well and has used before," said DeSimone.