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While news of shopping frenzies at brick and mortar stores defined the Black Friday narrative for offline retail, the world of mobile commerce was no less frenzied, albeit much less violent.
Online payment processor PayPal released a slew of data over the Thanksgiving holiday regarding mobile shopping and the results are not surprising. According to PayPal, a large number of shoppers opted not to fight the crush of shoppers at physical stores on Black Friday. Instead, many consumers chose to shop from their mobile phones and tablets. PayPal said it saw a six-fold increase (516 percent) in global mobile payment volume on Black Friday 2011 to Black Friday 2010.
"Shoppers are increasingly choosing the convenience of mobile to find the best deals from wherever they are while avoiding big crowds and long lines," said Steve Yankovich, vice president of mobile for PayPal's parent company eBay.
Among PayPal's other findings, the company said it saw a four-fold (371 percent) increase in the number of customers using mobile devices versus last year's Black Friday.
"The ability to simply pick up your phone or tablet and purchase what you want, when you want it, has become an attractive alternative to shoppers in record numbers this holiday season," Yankovich said.
According to PayPal, it saw a peak in mobile shopping on Black Friday between 1 p.m. and 2 p.m. PST, with shoppers in New York City and Houston, Texas making the most mobile purchases.
The report from PayPal seems to validate its early predictions that this holiday season would see mammoth increases in what it calls "couch commerce," its term for consumers accessing mobile devices to purchase for the holidays from wherever they're most comfortable.
Along with its Black Friday results, PayPal said mobile shopping on Thanksgiving day itself rose significantly as well. The company said mobile payment volume increased by 511 percent compared to last year's holiday.
"Across eBay, PayPal and our GSI retail customers, we saw mobile shopping surge on Thanksgiving evening as people showed a clear preference to shop on their own terms from anywhere at any time," Yankovich said.
For more on this topic, visit the Retail research center.