Black Friday Online Sales Up 24% Over Last Year

Another Black Friday is over and in the books and it looks like a good time was had by most.

IBM Coremetrics estimates a 24.3% increase in online sales over last year. As you can see from this chart, midnight was the magic hour with a nice spike over the last two years. This is likely due to the fact that many major chains made holiday prices effective at midnight online as well as in stores.

Sales peak in morning then slowly taper off, but still 2011 stayed well above the numbers from previous years with slight exceptions. (Can anyone account for that crazy early morning spike in 2009?)

Breaking it down by category, Department Store online sales were up 59%. Home Goods was up 48.8% and Apparel was up 47.2%. I like those numbers.

Small Business Saturday Gets White House Support

In the weeks leading up to Black Friday, it’s mostly the big brands that get all the attention. This year, though, American Express wants people to think about the small businesses, too. They’ve christened November 26, Small Business Saturday and the idea has truly taken hold.

The base of operations is the SBS Facebook page. Here, merchants can download signage, get e-marketing ideas and learn new ways to promote your business.

If you accept American Express, you can also promote a special offer through the Go Social program.

For their part, American Express is encouraging shoppers to go local with credits for qualifying purchases, a directory of local businesses by zip code and the Shop Small Facebook pledge.

So far 2,557,876 people have “liked” the page.

A Banner Day for Black Friday Retailers

This year, Black Friday began earlier than usual with many chains opening on Thanksgiving and even more starting as early as midnight instead of the usual 4 or 6 am on Friday.

Toys R Us cashiers can take comfort in knowing they’re not the only ones slogging through the holiday madness. The folks at IBM Coremetrics are at their desks, turning out data as fast as they can.

So far, they say this Thanksgiving 2011sales were up 39% over last year and that it was a “banner shopping day” for online retailers.

Mobile traffic to online retail sites was also good with 15.2% of consumers using a device to log-on. That’s up 6.45% from 2010.

11.09% represents the number of folks using their mobile device to actually buy items and that’s also up from 4.25% in 2010.

Facebook: 1 in 10 Ticker Stories Could be Ads

Facebook has found a way to put more ads in front of more people. Why is that a bad thing?

The latest uproar involves Facebook’s move to include “sponsored stories” in the home page Ticker. The Ticker, which I still don’t have, is made to quickly deal with all of the boring notifications generated by your friends when they do something:

Susan bought a duck in Farmville. Grant listened to “Don’t Stop Believing.” Natalie commented on “Cute Puppy Plays with Baby” video.

Now, in addition to those updates, you’ll see things like Andrew, Carl and Corky like Triscuts – Sponsored.

In other words, more information that you could live without.

Marketers Look for an Alternative to the Holiday Hype

I love a bargain, but frankly, it’s only Wednesday and I’m already tired of hearing about Black Friday and Cyber Monday deals. I feel like I’m standing in the middle of a huge room with a 1,000 people around me, all shouting for my attention.

50% off! Free shipping! Gift with purchase! Our lowest prices of the year! Door open at 4 AM! (And worst of all) Doors never close!

As the LA Times says, Black Thursday is replacing Black Friday as more stores open for business on Thanksgiving. Walmart, CVS, Toys R Us, and here’s Old Navy proudly offering $10 off if you shop on turkey day.

It’s enough to make me want to pay full price.

Will 2012 Be the Year of the App?

The numbers vary from day to day, and source to source, but best guess is that Apple has around 500,000 apps in the store. Android Market has approximately 300,000 active apps and the Windows Marketplace has 40,000. That’s a lot of apps.

According to the Millennial Media Mobile Mix for October, Music and Entertainment is now the number one category of apps. This is up over last year, when the category came in 4th and 5th. (They used to be counted as two separate categories.)

Last year, Games held the number one spot but have dropped to number 2, kicking Mocial down to 4th place. Holding steady at number 3 is Communications.

Millennial asked developers about their app plans for 2012 and here’s what they had to say:

LivingSocial Makes a Big Deal About Black Friday

Every day, LivingSocial offers heavily discounted prices on local restaurants, event tickets and services. On Black Friday, they’re doing away with the zip code, to present a list of national deals that they hope will make the holidays merrier for both their customers and their marketing partners.

Among the LivingSocial Black Friday deals are $25 for $50 worth of accessories at Verizon, $10 for $20 at OfficeMax, and Hearst magazine subscriptions for only $5.

Keeping in the holiday spirit, they’re also offering matching donations for Toys for Tots and Sketchers will donate a pair of shoes to charity for every one of their $20 for $40 vouchers sold.

On Cyber Monday, LivingSocial is sticking with the online theme, offering national deals on top internet sites. $25 for $50 at Bluefly.com, $20 for $40 at Red Envelope, and my favorite $10 for $20 worth of Skype credit.