Cyber Monday hauls in $3.45B of online purchases, smashing the single-day sales record

As people continue to hunt for bargains online, we are more seeing more record-breaking marquee online sales days. Cyber Monday — coming the first day after the long Thanksgiving break — racked up $3.45 billion in sales in the U.S., pipping past the previous record of $3.34 billion spent on Black Friday just a few days earlier. Sales were up 12.1 percent compared to Cyber Monday a year earlier.

Both figures come from Adobe, which said it tracked 23 billion anonymised visits to retail websites, covering 80 percent of all online transactions for the top 100 U.S. retailers. Earlier in the day, Adobe had said it expected $3.36 billion in sales.

The higher figures for Monday versus Black Friday make some sense. The rush online for Black Friday may point to a general weariness to avoid crowds of shoppers. But Monday has a different pull: many are making their way back to work and will have less time to make it into physical stores, but are still hunting out bargains, which are being offered in spades by retailers to meet (and create) that demand.

Cyber Monday caps off a five-day period that unofficially signals the start of the holiday shopping season, the busiest time of the year for online retailers, and a bellwether for the general health not just of the e-commerce industry but the wider economy and consumer confidence.

All told, $12.81 billion was spent between November 24 and November 28, up 16.4 percent on a year ago, after Black Friday became the first day to break $3 billion in single-day sales. Thanksgiving proved to be a slow start, relatively speaking, with $1.93 billion spent (below the projected $2 billion).

While mobile devices — and especially smartphones — continue to be juggernauts when it comes to driving traffic for browsing retail sites, desktop connections — which still usually provide an easier buying experience over the small pages of mobile sites — still lead when it comes to actual purchases.

Adobe said that on Cyber Monday, 65 percent of all purchases were made on desktop, although mobile accounted for 53 percent of all visits. Smartphones alone accounted for a 44 percent share of visits and 25 percent of all purchases. As usual, iOS devices saw a larger average order value over Android devices, $139 versus $124.

Notably, tablets — once thought to be the future for commerce because of their larger screens and portability (buy anywhere!) — took a meagre 10 percent of visits and nine percent of purchases.

What’s interesting is how the return to work for many signalled a shift to mobile. Monday’s numbers were all higher than the previous four days, when mobile accounted for 56 percent of visits and 37 percent of sales (smartphones: 25 percent; tablets: 12 percent), working out to $3.46 billion in sales. Still, as we pointed out previously, Black Friday became the first day in retail history to drive over one billion dollars in mobile revenue at $1.2 billion, a 33 percent growth YoY. Monday, in the end, didn’t beat Black Friday’s mobile sales with $1.07 billion in transactions.

These numbers all appear to be higher than what we are starting to get from specific payment companies and retailers: PayPal, for example, yesterday noted that only one-third of total payment volume on its platform was made on mobile devices.

While we don’t know which site was the “winner” when it came to the most sales, Adobe tracked “buzz” and said that eBay stood out as the leader in that regard over Amazon on Cyber Monday. Macys, Walmart, H&M, Target, Nordstrom, Kohl’s, Home Depot and Gap filled out the rankings, based on analysis of 2 million mentions of names and links across blogs, Google+, Reddit, Twitter, Dailymotion, Flickr, Instagram, Tumblr, Foursquare, YouTube, WordPress and other sites.