Here's a quick Thanksgiving/Black Friday question for you.
In the run-up to Christmas, Hanukkah, and all the other gift-laden winter holidays, would you rather go after a bargain by letting your fingers loll about on the screen of a smartphone or tablet -- or mix it up with the punch-throwing, gun-toting, um, customers at your local big box store?
We thought so. And if data from eBay is any indication, that instinct toward self-preservation is strong in many of us (or at least an increasing number of us). For the data shows that, since last year, Thanksgiving and Black Friday have -- not surprisingly -- seen significant jumps in the number of people shopping via mobile device.
In a blog post today, eBay-owned PayPal said it saw a 173 percent year-over-year rise in worldwide mobile payment volume on Thanksgiving Day, with a 164 percent jump in the numbers of global shoppers who were using PayPal mobile to make purchases.
Most of the T-Day mobile mania transpired between noon and 1 p.m., PayPal informs us, with these cities leading the pack: Houston, L.A., Chicago, Miami, and New York. As for eBay itself, the online auctioneer posted a graphic (embedded below) showing that the company saw a 133 percent year-over-year jump in U.S. mobile volume transacted on Thanksgiving, and that eBay-owned GSI Commerce, which provides e-commerce setups and services to client companies, observed a 170 percent year-over-year rise in U.S. mobile sales.
As noted in AllThingsD, IBM's Benchmark report, which looks at data from the Web sites of more than 500 large U.S. retailers, chimed in with its own Black Friday numbers: e-sales up 20 percent year over year; a jump to 28 percent, from last year's 18.1 percent, in the number of folks visiting retailers' sites from mobile devices; a jump to 14.3 percent, from 2011's 10.3 percent, in the number of people who actually made purchases with their mobile gadgets.
IBM's data also shows that people tapped the iPad more often than other mobile devices to buy stuff: Apple's gadget saw a conversion rate of 4.2 percent, higher than all other mobile devices, IBM said.
Now, this doesn't necessarily mean that everyone except for a few hundred crazy big-box rioters was standing back and surfing for gifts via iOS, Android, or other device. As ATD's Kara Swisher points out, mobile sales figures remain a small fraction of total sales. Still, it may well be only a matter of time till the mobile approach wins out over full (body) engagement with the brick-and-mortar mosh pit. It's not only getting easier to shop by way of a tablet or smartphone, the gadgets also do a bang-up job of showing you YouTube videos of the horrors of the shopping maul.