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How Mobile Is Reshaping the Holiday Shopping Season

Data from PayPal shows that mobile is changing when and where consumers shop for the holidays.

Black Friday might be as American as apple pie, but more Americans are choosing to stay home and shop on the couch (maybe while enjoying some apple pie) during the holidays. Data from PayPal showed that more consumers are shopping and paying with mobile leading up to and during Black Friday and Cyber Monday (and avoiding the in-store disasters Black Friday is now famous for).

PayPal, which processes one of every six dollars spent on e-commerce transactions, found that its total mobile payment volume on Black Friday this year increased 62% from last year. And mobile payments volume on Thanksgiving Day increased 47% from last year, with peak volume between 4:00 and 5:00 p.m. that day. Rather than brave the crowds on Black Friday, consumers are getting their holiday shopping done on their mobile devices before they even sit down to Thanksgiving dinner.

PayPal has seen mobile payments volume start to increase ahead of the holidays as early as the end of September over the last couple of years. “Mobile is making it cyber month, not Cyber Monday,” Pablo Rodriguez, head of global consumer initiatives at PayPal, said last week. “We see a lot of merchants getting ahead of Black Friday and offering deals earlier. We put a stake in the ground saying that the holiday shopping season actually starts September 30.”

Retailers are also getting better at attracting customers before the holidays with push notifications and other mobile features. “People used to focus on Black Friday and Cyber Monday with their shopping. But retailers are getting more savvy at using different tactics and customer research to get customers’ attention and keep it,” Rodriguez noted.

Fashion was by far the most popular category for mobile shopping during Thanksgiving week, doubling the volume of the next highest category -- electronics. Rodriguez attributed the mobile payments volume driven by fashion retailers to improved mobile interfaces and checkout processes, along with deals that extended free international shipping to cross-border customers.

Most mobile shoppers this holiday season were clustered in large cities, according to PayPal’s data. The most common geographies for mobile payments through Cyber Monday were Houston, Los Angeles, and Chicago.

The total number of shoppers using PayPal mobile increased 43% on Thanksgiving, 51% on Black Friday, and 46% on Cyber Monday in 2014, compared with 2013.

Jonathan Camhi has been an associate editor with Bank Systems & Technology since 2012. He previously worked as a freelance journalist in New York City covering politics, health and immigration, and has a master's degree from the City University of New York's Graduate School ... View Full Bio

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