IBM: Online Holiday Retailers Cash In Big Time in 2011

According to IBM analytics, online sales for the 2011 holiday season more than doubled sales figures for the same period in 2010.

The U.S. online retail sector achieved 7.5 percent growth in December 2011, compared with the same period the year before, according to IBM's cloud-based analytics reports.

IBM's findings follow a strong November in which both Black Friday 2011 and Cyber Monday 2011 delivered double-digit growth over 2010.

Delivered as part of IBM's Smarter Commerce initiative, the IBM Benchmark December holiday report showed several year-over-year trends, including that 14.6 percent of all online sessions on a retailer's site were initiated from a mobile device, which is more than double the rate of 5.6 percent from this same period in 2010.

In addition, sales from mobile devices doubled, reaching 11 percent, versus 5.5 percent in December 2010. And Apple's iPhone and iPad ranked No. 1 and No. 2 for mobile device retail traffic-5.2 percent and 4.3 percent, respectively. Android was third at 4.1 percent.

Moreover, IBM said shoppers using the iPad also drove more retail purchases than any other device, with conversion rates reaching 6.3 percent, compared with 3.1 percent for all mobile devices.

"This past December, consumers remained committed to finding the best online deals, whether through their PC or mobile device," John Squire, chief strategy officer for IBM Smarter Commerce, said in a statement. "By employing a smarter approach to commerce, many retailers were successful in helping to connect their customers with the best deals from anywhere and at any time, even on Christmas Day where online shopping grew by 16.4 percent over 2010."

Meanwhile, IBM also broke out online sales according to categories. Department stores continued to offer an array of deals and promotions that caught the attention of consumers. As a result, department stores' online sales were up 18 percent over December 2010. Home goods also reported a 15.6 percent increase in sales over December with consumers continuing to shift their attention toward the home. Online apparel sales also were strong, realizing an increase of 16.3 percent from 2010. And health and beauty online sales grew 16 percent from the same period in 2010.