2016 Thanksgiving on track to break $2B in online sales

With Thanksgiving Day in full swing, manyare turning to the internet to get theirholiday shopping started. Adobe is tracking e-commerce transactions in real time, and it said that by 5pm Eastern time online retailers had clocked up $1.15 billion in sales, up 13.6% on a year ago. Of that, $449 million was spent onmobile devices($322 million smartphones; $127 million tablets), a record amount and up 58.6% on 2015.$702 million was purchased viadesktop sites.

Earlier today, Adobe said Thanksgiving Day would break the $2 billion mark for money spent online. Now, its modified that somewhat: spending isnow on track to either hit or come close to $2 billion.

Why the change? It seems that even ifsome, like Visa, were projecting more people than ever before shopping online this year, collectively retailers have put their chips on deeper mark-downs to keep both interest and transaction volumes up.

Adobe writes that heavy discounting seen in the early hours of the day has slowed revenue growth. Tablets, for example,were marked down by more than 25% on average compared to last years 12%; and that TVs, toys and pet care items are seeing much larger discountsthan last year. Portalslike RetailMeNot have playeda key role in promoting those discounts.

Thisyear is continuing the trend of people turning to their mobile devices to start their browsing perhaps using these smaller, handheld computersas a way of doing this more subtly and without being too antisocial around family and friends (thats assuming you have agreed on a moratorium onany political conversations).

Some54% of visits came from mobile devices (44% smartphone; 10% tablet), but mobile accounted for only 39% of purchases meaning some are still turning to their desktopcomputers to seal the deal. Conversions on smartphones have increased since the morning, averaging 1.7%; Desktop 3.4% and tablets 3.2%, Adobe noted.

As in years past, so far iOS devices are bringing in higher value purchasesthan Android devices, at $144 versus $119. In all, 55% of visits to retail sites and 38% of online purchasesfor Thanksgiving Day are coming from mobile devices, according to Adobe.

Meanwhile, IBM is not releasing its bigger Benchmark updates this year, which in the past tracked some 17,000 different online retailers. But it still appears to be doing some of this tracking online.

Its numbers are even more positive for mobile than Adobes. IBM notes that nearly 60% of all e-commerce traffic right now is coming from mobile devices, but that smartphones and tablets are only accounting for 44% of actual sales. Desktop sales continue to bring in higher-value sales compared to mobile, it notes: $134 versus $118.

Still, drilling into specific product categories, it seems that some of the most popular categories have been seeing declines in average spend per order. That may be in part because of the discounts, but perhaps also because people are spending more conservatively. Video game consoles are down 13% compared to 2015; toys are down 14%; televisions are down 7%; jewelry is down 20%; and computers are down 15%.

Adobe said its figures come from tracking 21 billion aggregated and anonymised visits to retail websites, covering some 80% of all online transactions for the top 100 U.S. retailers.

Well continue to update these numbers as the day goes on and more people stumble away from tables in food comas that allow for very restrictedactivities (shopping online being one of them), and well continue to cover how people are buying online through Black Friday and the weekend.

As people finish up their Thanksgiving Day meals, were expecting eager shoppers to jump online and snag the hottest products and best deals,especially as several physical locations will be closed today, writesBecky Tasker, managing analyst, Adobe Digital Insights.

So far this month, Adobe said that weve seen $27.2 billion in sales, but while Thanksgiving sales are likely tosee a double-digit boost this year, the same cant be said for the month overall, where the rise is just 4.28%.

This makes some sense: Thanksgiving is not traditionally a shopping day Black Friday (tomorrow) is usually seen as the start of the holiday sales rush. That means that there is a lot more growth to come, from a smaller starting point, for today. On top of this, physical stores tend to be closed on Thanksgiving, which means that in theory there should be even more of a push for online sales from those eager to jump on sales, and stores promoting offers to those consumers.

Unsurprisingly, so far top products for online sales have been consumer electronics, including iPad tablets, Samsung 4K TVs, PlayStation 4 consoles, and electric scooters.

Updated throughoutthe latest figures.

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