Online sales soar in Black Friday two-day shopping frenzy

Pedestrians stand with shopping bags as they wait to cross a street during Black Friday sales in New York, on Friday, Nov 29, 2013. Online US shopping for Black Friday deals soared to US$3 billion (S$3.8 billion) during a two-day period beginnin
Pedestrians stand with shopping bags as they wait to cross a street during Black Friday sales in New York, on Friday, Nov 29, 2013. Online US shopping for Black Friday deals soared to US$3 billion (S$3.8 billion) during a two-day period beginning on Thursday, with tablets and cell phones as top must-have items, estimates showed on Saturday. -- FILE PHOTO: REUTERS

WASHINGTON (AFP) - Online US shopping for Black Friday deals soared to US$3 billion (S$3.8 billion) during a two-day period beginning on Thursday, with tablets and cell phones as top must-have items, estimates showed on Saturday.

Online purchases reached US$1.93 billion on Friday itself, the unofficial start of the retail sector's holiday season.

That marked a 39 per cent increase over 2012, according to software maker Adobe, which analysed 400 million visits on some 2,000 American shopping websites.

Holiday shopping traditionally accounts for 20 to 40 per cent of an individual retailer's annual sales, according to the National Retail Federation.

Early online Black Friday sales, which began on Thursday, the US Thanksgiving holiday, reached US$1.06 billion, up 18 per cent from last year, according to Adobe.

Technology giant IBM also reported increased numbers in overall online sales as it looked at 800 merchant websites.

IBM said Internet sales jumped 19.7 per cent over last year on Thanksgiving and 19 percent on Black Friday, with orders averaging US$135.27, a 2.2 per cent increase compared to last year.

Online shoppers may have been wise to avoid stores, with reports of fistfights, a stabbing and a shooting as people elbowed their way through crowded shopping floors to snatch heavily discounted items.

Purchases of smartphones, tablets and other mobile devices accounted for 24.2 per cent of online sales, according to Adobe.

Tablets represented 15.6 per cent of online sales while smartphones representing 8.6 percent.

IBM also found that mobile devices accounted for 21.8 per cent of sales.

According to Adobe, of the US$3 billion in total online sales over the two days, US$417 million was done on iPads and US$126 million was done on iPhones, while Android phones were used to buy US$106 million in purchases and Android tablets accounted for US$42 million.

IBM said tablets were used for 14.4 per cent of online sales, against 7.2 per cent on smartphones. On average, tablet users each spent US$132.75 and smartphone users spent US$115.63.

The company also found that iPad and iPhone users spent more, shelling out an average of US$127.92, compared to US$105.20 for users of Google's Android system.