Online sales jump on Cyber Monday, suggesting strong season of holiday sales

Posted Nov. 26, 2012, at 7:48 p.m.

SAN FRANCISCO — Online sales jumped on Cyber Monday, sending e-commerce retailers’ shares higher and suggesting strong growth from earlier in the holiday shopping season is continuing for now.

Sales on eBay’s online marketplace were particularly strong and Amazon.com continued its rapid holiday shopping season growth, according to early Cyber Monday data released by e-commerce firm ChannelAdvisor.

EBay’s shares climbed 4.9 percent to close at $51.40. The stock hit an intra-day high of $51.78, the highest level since early 2005. Amazon’s shares gained 1.6 percent to $243.62.

Cyber Monday has been the biggest online shopping day in recent years, as workers return to offices and use computers to make holiday purchases. ComScore expects online sales to hit a record of about $1.5 billion by day’s end.

Online sales were up 25.6 percent as of 3:00 pm EST on Monday, compared with the same period a year ago, according to International Business Machines Corp which tracks transaction data from 500 U.S. retail websites. In 2011, Cyber Monday year-over-year growth was 15 percent by 3:00 pm, IBM said.

Strong online sales growth on Thanksgiving Day and Black Friday sparked concern that shoppers were just buying earlier, threatening revenue later in the season.

“So far, that is not the case,” said Jay Henderson, the strategy director for IBM Smarter Commerce. “Extending the shopping season has really just fueled additional online spending rather than cannibalizing days later in the season.”

ChannelAdvisor said client sales — or sales generated by third-party merchants using the company’s software — soared 57 percent on eBay early on Monday, compared with the same period in 2011.

The growth rate was five times higher than during the same period last year, said ChannelAdvisor, which helps merchants sell more online.

“The early eBay numbers are impressive,” said R.J. Hottovy, an equity analyst at Morningstar. “They put together an effective marketing plan across several channels this holiday season — online, television and print.”

EBay has been trying to move away from its online auction roots, emphasizing new items selling at fixed prices to better compete with Amazon.

“The numbers suggest they’re having success reintroducing consumers to the ‘new eBay,’” Hottovy said.

PayPal, the payments division of eBay, said the volume of mobile transactions it processed by 2:00 pm EST on Cyber Monday almost tripled versus the same period last year.

Client sales on Amazon.com were up 52 percent during the first part of Cyber Monday, ChannelAdvisoralso reported.

“Amazon continues to look impressive to us since it is building on top of large numbers,” said Scott Tilghman, an analyst at Caris & Company.

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