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Chinese shoppers boost Black Friday sales in US

Chinese shoppers boost Black Friday sales in US

Black Friday balloons are seen inside a Dick's Sports Goods store in Westbury, New York November 28, 2014.[Photo/Agencies]

The future of the Black Friday shopping event appears to be online, with Chinese consumers playing a larger role.

The latest figures on the United States retail phenomenon show sales in the country declined about 11 percent compared with 2013, according to the National Retail Federation. Online sales, however, were up 14.3 percent, according to IBM Digital Analytics Benchmark.

The NRF reported that 33.7 million people went shopping in the US from Thanksgiving Day through to the following Sunday, 5.2 percent less than 2013.

Total Thanksgiving weekend spending fell about 11 percent to $50.9 billion, while average spending per person was about $380, down 6.4 percent from last year.

"A strengthening economy that has changed consumers' reliance on deep discounts, a highly competitive environment, early promotions and the ability to shop 24/7 online all contributed to the shift witnessed this weekend," said NRF President and CEO Matthew Shay.

Michael DeSimone, CEO of New York-based Borderfree Inc, the cross-border e-commerce service company, said: "We're seeing a big jump in the growth of Black Friday sales to Chinese consumers compared with the previous year."

Originally an American retail event that takes place on the day after Thanksgiving, Black Friday has now been introduced to the United Kingdom, involving most British retailers offering discounts.

Following this year's event, experts said some seismic shifts appear to be taking shape in the retail world.

Mobile shopping accounted for 52.1 percent of all online Black Friday traffic in the US, for instance, outpacing desktops for the first time, while mobile sales made up 27.9 percent of online sales, up 28.2 percent.

Apple Inc's iOS provided the most mobile traffic, by about 3 to 1, over Google Inc Android-driven traffic, IBM Digital Analytics Benchmark data showed.

But Apple's share was down from 83.4 percent last year, as Android's share rose from 15.8 percent to 22.7 percent, according to Forbes.

In one Black Friday promotion, a list of US retailers including Neiman Marcus Inc, Bloomingdale's Inc, Macy's Inc, the Ashford website by Luxi Group LLC, and Aeropostale Inc teamed up with Borderfree and Alipay, which enabled online shoppers in China to buy goods through Alipay's ePass in yuan. Alipay is China's largest third-party payment service run by Alibaba Group Holding Ltd.

"Our participating retailers which are aggressively targeting their deals and promotions to shoppers in China have received extremely positive feedback from Chinese customers about how much easier it is to make purchases online," DeSimone said.

Sabrina Peng, head of Alipay International, said that Alipay's retail partners in the US were impressed by their sales performances during Black Friday sales, driven up by Chinese online shoppers, particularly.

"Many of our department store partners such as Macy's have sent us thank you letters via e-mail, saying the purchase made by Chinese shoppers are beyond their expectation," said Peng, adding Alipay is working to deepen collaboration with US retailers.

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