American online shopping hit a record high on Black Friday (23 November), the traditional US shopping binge that follows Thanksgiving, though African numbers still lag behind.
Online shopping has reached an all time high with US$1.042 billion in online sales, revealed leading digital trackers comScore. Sales have improved by 26 percent compared to a year ago.
Thanksgiving Day (November 22) produced slightly lower, though still a 30 percent increase in contrast with 2011’s US$633 million.
More than 57 million Americans are recorded to have visited online retail sites on Black Friday.
Considering online shopping in Africa, South Africa’s online shopping breached the R2 billion (US$225 million) mark in 2010 and also experienced a growth rate of 30 percent by last year.
Earlier this year, Arthur Goldstuck, Managing Director of technology advisory firm World Wide Worx, said that, out of an estimated 11 million South African Internet users, only 4 million will opt for online shopping.
Lack of Internet access is said to be one of the major causes for the preference of physical, rather than virtual store visits.
According to WWWMetrics statistics, African Internet availability is still remarkably low compared to the rest of the world.
Notable increases in e-commerce have however been noted in Nigeria, South Africa and Kenya as access to online stores become more common.
Kenya has 18 to 24 percent online shoppers, while South Africa doubles numbers with a 51 percent ecommerce active population, according to International Telecommunication Union (ITU) research.
As mobile users are a much bigger group than Internet surfers on the African continent, the chances of electronic shopping has a greater chance to go mobile than online.
Mobile money has seen great successes with numbers as high as 43 percent in Uganda. The revenues of mobile money are predicted to hit US$200 billion by 2015. South Africa has also launched Take Your Money Everywhere (TYME), its first mobile bank, last week.