Peter Kafka

Recent Posts by Peter Kafka

Online Black Friday Not Quite as Bad as Feared

If flat is the new up, then online retailers should be doing handstands: comScore says shoppers actually bought more Friday than they did a year ago. Well, just barely: The Web measurement service estimates that shoppers spent $534 million on Black Friday, up one percent from last year.

This is all about expectations: In any other setting those numbers would be a calamity. But given that online sales for the rest of November have been lower than the previous year, this constitutes good news for the likes of Amazon (AMZN).

Thursday’s numbers were even better: Thanksgiving day sales increased six percent over the previous year (click image to enlarge).

But two days of data aren’t enough to make comScore (SCOR) or anyone else rethink their overall predictions for the holiday season, which remain dour. ComScore thinks overall sales will be flat.

Separately, eBay’s (EBAY) PayPal reported that transaction volume on Friday increased 34 percent over the previous year and that overall sales increased 26 percent. PayPal claims that its numbers represent 12 percent of U.S. e-commerce, but I don’t think those numbers will be nearly as heartening for most big retailers, which aren’t depending on the online payment service.