More consumers head online for holiday shopping weekend

Today is Cyber Monday, but the holiday online shopping craze really started on Thanksgiving Day, and shoppers have been prowling websites and apps for bargains ever since the turkey was popped into the oven.

Reports from the holiday shopping weekend show that — while millions braved the crowds to hit the malls and outlets for bargains — more consumers were also doing their holiday shopping on the web and on mobile devices than in any year prior. Overall online sales from Thanksgiving through Sunday were up almost 15 percent in 2013 , according to IBM Digital Analytics Benchmark.

But it’s far from over. More than 131 million Americans are expected to shop online today in honor of the biggest online shopping holiday of the year, according to the National Retail Federation. About 19 percent of them will do it from a smartphone (keeping their desktops at work clear of any incriminating evidence).

Here’s a rundown of the weekend online shopping extravaganza:

Looks like consumers had a side of iPhone with their Thanksgiving dinner, and went back for seconds on Black Friday. Mobile traffic accounted for 41 percent of all online shopping traffic over the four-day weekend, up more than 35 percent compared to the same period last year. Mobile sales accounted for 23 percent of all online sales, up 44 percent from 2012.

On Thanksgiving Day, the number of mobile orders from websites for major U.S. brands including Toys R Us, Levi, Sports Authority, Polo Ralph Lauren and GNC were up nearly 127 percent over 2012, according to eBay Enterprise, a branch of eBay that supports digital commerce for major retailers. On Black Friday this year, the number of mobile purchases from the same major U.S. retailer websites increased 89 percent compared to 2012.

Mobile visits to Wayfair.com, an e-commerce site that carries more than 11,000 brands of furniture and home decor, increased 384 percent on Black Friday over 2012.

Tablets bring in the cash — Tablets drove 16 percent of all online sales, more than double that of smartphones, which accounted for more than 7 percent, according to IBM Digital Analytics Benchmark. Tablet users spent an average of $127.73 per order, while smartphone users spent an average of $111.43.

Amazon is as much a threat as ever — Amazon.com saw a 31 percent increase in sales on Thanksgiving over last year, and 35 percent year-over-year growth on Black Friday.  But eBay, the once nearly defunct online auction site that’s back with a vengeance, saw even better growth  — a 38 percent sales increase from 2012, says ChannelAdvisor, an e-commerce marketing firm. The firm says low inventory of electronics and toys in store is giving eBay a boost.

YouTube inspires shoppers — Google reports that social media drove a lot of Black Friday sales, with more than 16,000 videos of consumers sharing their Black Friday purchases posted on YouTube. About four in 10 shoppers who watched a YouTube video went online or to a store to look at or purchase that product.

Facebook beats Pinterest — Shoppers who saw gift ideas posted on Facebook were three times more likely to purchase that gift than shoppers who saw gift ideas on Pinterest, also according to IBM Digital Analytics Benchmark.

It was a weekend for games and gadgets — The top gifts for the weekend included Microsoft Xbox, which was released just last month and wasn’t on sale, and Sony PlayStation 4. Also in high demand were tablets — the iPad Mini, Surface and the Nexus 7 — and TVs of all sizes and styles. Wearable health devices, such as the Fitbit, a wristband that monitors fitness activity of the person wearing it, were also popular, and consumers must have cold weather on their mind because The North Face merchandise sold like crazy. And although it’s no longer the early 2000s, the UGG boots are apparently back in fashion. (According to PriceGrabber and Google shopping data)

Photo: A shopper uses a smartphone when shopping for holiday gifts at Peet’s Coffee & Tea in Oakland, Calif. on Friday, Nov. 18, 2011.  (Laura A. Oda/Bay Area News Group)

Heather Somerville Heather Somerville (210 Posts)

Heather Somerville is a business reporter covering venture capital and startups for the Bay Area News Group.