November 29, 2009 by  

EBay’s PayPal division said Saturday that PayPal processed 20 percent more transactions on Black Friday compared to 2008.

PayPal didn’t release the total payment volume, but claimed that its Payflow Gateway system processes nearly a quarter of e-commerce, while its direct sales numbers reflect 12 percent of all e-commerce.

In general, reports from a number of e-tailers and retailers indicated that consumers spent more on Black Friday than in 2008, when the United States was in the midst of a recession. However, it’s still unclear whether shoppers bought more on “Black Friday,” when they could expect a discount on what usually is one of the busiest days in the holiday season, or whether the pattern will continue. In 2008, shoppers stopped buying in early December, a shock that the U.S. economy felt well into 2009.

PayPal also reported that the official start of the holiday shopping season was Monday, Nov. 16, continuing a trend of extending the holiday season before Thanksgving and into January. On Nov. 16, PayPal reported that it saw 28 percent more transactions than on a typical Monday.

Finally, PayPal also reported that Black Friday shoppers made 140 percent more mobile transactions versus an average Friday, with over half a million mobile transactions since Nov. 16.

Other retailers and merchants also recorded rosy numbers.

Shopping channel QVC said Friday that it had recorded its highest level of “Black Friday” sales ever, up 60 percent from last year. Early reports also indicated that Friday sales strengthened compared to last year.

The channel sold 765,000 units totaling over $32 million, an over 60 percent boost from the same period last year. contributed 40 percent of the total, the site said.

QVC sells a variety of items, so in terms of units, there can be no clear comparison between 2008 and this year. But in terms of top sellers, QVC listed a Sylvania digital camcorder with a 2-inch LCD Color Display, as its top seller, a featured items that sold more than 200,000 units. Additional top sellers from the day included The Sharper Image Entertainment Projector; a Playhut travel lounger with removable slumber bag and storage tote; the Nintendo Wii with an accessory case, and games; and a 12-Mpixel Olympus camera with 5X optical zoom. also reported that sales increased 43 percent versus the same period last year. Ebates, a cash-back merchant, covers 1,300 online stores and tracks the purchases of nearly 2 million active shoppers, the site said. The top stores visited and used by eBates customers were Wal-Mart, Target, Old Navy, Sears, and Best Buy. The segment with the strongest growth was computer hardware and software.

The National Retail Federation said that retailers in all sectors reported strong crowds, with HDTVs, winter coats and Zhu-Zhu toy hamsters among the most popular items. The NRF is expected to hold its own “Black Friday” call on Sunday.

Toys ‘R’ Us told Bloomberg that company stores averaged 1,000 people or so that lined up at midnight for its Black Friday sales, according to chairman and chief executive Jerry Storch. The chain sold a “significant number” of Apple Inc. iPods and tens of thousands of Zhu Zhu Pets robot hamsters, he said.

“Retailers came out swinging for Black Friday, offering some of the holiday season’s lowest prices on electronics, appliances, apparel and toys,” said Tracy Mullin, president and chief executive of the NRF, in a statement. “Budget-focused shoppers seemed to be pleasantly surprised with post-Thanksgiving deals, which many retailers will extend into Saturday and even Sunday.”

NRF estimates that holiday sales will decrease 1 percent this year to $437.6 billion. In 2008, holiday sales dropped 3.8 percent from 2007.

Shoppers interested in audio products benefited from the sharpest online discounts., owned by Experian, indicated that the average price for docking stations plunged 50 percent from $138 to $69, and that MP3 players fell by a third to an average of $88. The average price of plasma and LCD TVs dropped by 26 percent to $963, while the price of GPS units, another heavily discounted item, fell about $20 to $167.

The top five holiday products purchased on Black Friday were all tech toys, according to the Nintendo Wii game console, the Garmin nuvi 265WT GPS, the Apple iPod touch 8 GB, the Nikon D90 SLR, and the Canon Digital Rebel XSI 12MP Black Digital SLR camera.

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