SOURCE: Coremetrics

December 01, 2008 08:00 ET

Coremetrics Reports Scattered Bright Spots Amid Black Friday Online Spending

Report Shows Online Department Stores, Gift Stores, Health and Beauty Retailers and Jewelry Stores Are Early Winners in Online Holiday Shopping

SAN MATEO, CA--(Marketwire - December 1, 2008) - The online retail sector in general registered drops in ecommerce activities on Black Friday 2008 compared to the same period last year according to Coremetrics, the leading provider of digital marketing optimization solutions. The number of page and product views across the online retail sector in general was down 8.55 and 8.29 percent respectively compared to Black Friday 2007, suggesting that online retailers are doing a poor job of directing people to browse through their selection of products.

The 18 percent drop in average session length also demonstrates that retailers are struggling to keep customers on their sites. Retailers are having difficulty in converting visitors to buyers, as evidenced by weakness in shopping cart and order sessions percentages. The notable exceptions among online retailers were department stores, gift stores, health and beauty stores and jewelers, all of whom registered encouraging increases in the number of consumers who completed online purchases.

Retail Summary

                       Black Friday  Black Friday  % Change   Analysis
                           2008          2007

Shopping cart sessions

Out of all sessions,                                         The number of
 the percentage in                                           people who
 which visitors placed     10.80%        10.75%     0.47%    put items in
 least one item in                                           their shopping
 their shopping cart                                         carts rose by
                                                             nearly 0.5

Order sessions

The percentage of                                            The number of
 sessions in which                                           people who
 visitors completed         3.49%         3.55%    -1.69%    actually
 an order                                                    completed a
                                                             dropped by
                                                             1.69 percent.
                                                             This number
                                                             combined with
                                                             the one above
                                                             it suggests
                                                             retailers are
                                                             having a hard
                                                             time con-
                                                             vincing people
                                                             to make a

Average time on site

The average length of                                        Consumers
 time a visitor spends     517.27        632.33   -18.20%    devoted nearly
 per session                                                 20 percent
                                                             less time to
                                                             spans and a
                                                             more focused
                                                             approach to

Average items per order

Average number of items
 purchased per order         4.56          4.45     2.54%    People are
                                                             buying 2.54
                                                             percent more
                                                             items per
                                                             online order
                                                             than last

Average order value

Average value of                                             While
 each order               $126.04       $134.29    -6.15%    consumers are
                                                             buying more
                                                             items per
                                                             order, the
                                                             average value
                                                             of their
                                                             orders dropped
                                                             by more than 6
                                                             percent. This
                                                             suggests a
                                                             preference for

New visitor conversion

Out of all visitor                                           Retailers in
 sessions, the              2.27%         2.61%   -13.03%    general did a
 percentage that                                             poor job of
 completed an order                                          converting
                                                             traffic to
                                                             their sites
                                                             into paying
                                                             with a 13.03
                                                             percent drop
                                                             from last

On-site search session

Out of all sessions,                                         The more than
 the percentage in which   18.44%        17.50%     5.37%    5.3 percent
 visitors used on-site                                       jump  in
 search capabilities                                         on-site search
                                                             suggests that
                                                             shoppers are
                                                             taking the
                                                             time to hunt
                                                             for bargains.
                                                             This figure
                                                             can serve as a
                                                             proxy for
                                                             behavior too.

Retail Categories

  • Department Stores were big winners on Black Friday, with a 12 percent increase in order sessions, a whopping 30 percent increase in average items per order, and 10 percent increases in average order value and in shopping cart conversion rate. These numbers suggest that department stores, more than niche retailers, succeeded in finding the right merchandizing formula for converting casual browsers into buyers.

  • The Gifts sub-vertical registered an increase of more than 5 percent in shopping cart sessions and an astonishing 57.38 percent jump in orders session. The average number of items per order went up 6.50 percent, average order value went up 1.53 percent, and new visitor conversion rate went up 2.08 percent.

  • The Health and Beauty sub-vertical saw an increase in the percent of browser and shopping cart sessions (6 percent and 10 percent respectively), as well as in average order value (10 percent). These increases suggest increased interest among consumers in "little luxuries," a willingness to spend on small, feel-good indulgences as opposed to more expensive splurges.

  • The Jewelry sub-vertical experienced a large increase in shopping cart sessions (80 percent) and order sessions (36 percent), suggesting that their target shoppers may be more insulated from the economic downturn than consumers at large.


"These numbers show that it's possible for retailers to be successful even in a tough economy if they take the time to understand what is motivating their customers," said John Squire, chief strategy officer for Coremetrics. "Early results show that department stores and gifts retailers did an outstanding job of attracting customers and of merchandising products that broadly appealed to consumers. In both of these sub-verticals consumers spent less time using onsite search engines -- down 4.31 percent for department stores and 2.13 percent for gift stores compared to last year -- suggesting that early and aggressive promotions offered by retailers are working."


These findings are based on data from Coremetrics Benchmark™, the industry's only peer-level benchmarking solution that measures online marketing results, including commerce data, against those of the competition. More than 300 leading U.S. retailers, representing approximately $20 billion in revenues annually, contribute their analytics data to Benchmark. All data is aggregated and anonymized. Abercrombie & Fitch, Alibris, Bloomingdale's, Coldwater Creek, L'OCCITANE, Macy's, PETCO and REI are just a few of the participating companies.

Coremetrics Benchmark comes standard with Coremetrics Analytics for no additional cost.


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