NEW YORK – Shoppers who skipped the crowds on Black Friday gave online merchants a 16 percent spike in revenue, according to data released Saturday. That's spurring optimism for spending the rest of season.
That increase came partly from shoppers who spent more per online purchase during the traditional opening day of the holiday shopping season, according to Web research company Coremetrics. The average order rose to $190.80. That's a 12 percent increase over $170.19 on the same day last year.
The solid increase adds to a 33 percent online spending spike on Thanksgiving day, and signs of bigger-than-expected crowds in stores.
"The season's off to a great start," said John Squire, Coremetrics vice president of strategy. "It really shows really strong consumer sentiment for buying and for going online."
Lots of shoppers made the night after Thanksgiving an all-nighter. "Even at 1 a.m. Pacific, there was still very strong buying across the U.S.," Squire said.
Shopping on smart phones remained a small, though growing, piece of the pie. Coremetrics said about 5.6 percent of people logged onto a retailer's website using a mobile device. That compares with less than 1 percent on last year's Black Friday, Squire said.
More dollars have shifted to online shopping over the years, but it's still a relatively small share of all holiday spending, between 8 and 10 percent.
But many shoppers have become converted to the comfort and convenience of browsing the Web for gifts.
Kelly Hager, 30, of Baltimore, Md., is shopping exclusively online for the fourth year in a row.
"It's nice to not have to fight for a parking spot and deal with 3 billion people who are all trying to get the same thing I'm trying to get," she said. Hager used to work at a mall, so she's seen Black Friday from both sides.
Those who did fight the crowds had retailers feeling bullish about the prospects for the rest of the holiday season. Broad discounts spurred long lines.
Retailers and analysts were also encouraged that people seemed to be buying more items for themselves, a sign they're feeling confident enough to spend more money overall.
Amanda Jewell was standing in a short line at the entrance of GameStop in Bellevue, Wash., before the doors opened at 7 a.m. Friday.
This year, Jewell is planning to spend about the same amount or maybe a little more on the holidays as in 2009 — $1,500 to $2,000 total.
"I feel a little more relaxed about it," Jewell said. "Last year I was just buying presents, not for myself. This year I feel better about buying for myself."
There were only scattered reports of ugly behavior and arrests on Black Friday.
Thanksgiving weekend is prime time for retailers. In recent years, Black Friday — called that because the surge of shoppers could take retailers into profitability, or "the black," for the year — has been the busiest shopping day of the year, according to data from ShopperTrak.
Black Friday is generally not as big for online retailers as Monday after Thanksgiving — known as Cyber Monday — which Coremetrics predicts will be the busiest online shopping day of the year, driven by heavy online promotions.
The Black Friday blitz doesn't make or break the holiday season. In fact, shoppers seem to be procrastinating more every year, giving retailers some tense moments the last few days before Christmas.
Last year, the Thanksgiving shopping weekend accounted for 12.3 percent of overall holiday revenue, according to ShopperTrak. Black Friday made up about half of that.
Jessica Mintz in Bellevue, Wash., contributed to this report.