Online flash sales more than double in one year

Flash sales are turning out to be a popular revenue booster for online retailers.
Written by Rachel King, Contributor

Flash sales, in which online businesses post limited time discounts on products much like an average daily deal site, is growing rapidly in popularity with consumers -- and therefore retailers as well.

These offers often gain more attention when customers can get bargain deals on designer and high-end items from sellers like Gilt Groupe and MyHabit.

Online marketing intelligence firm Experian Hitwise pinpointed some flash sale statistics that are current as of July 2011. Here's a snapshot of the highlights.

  • U.S. visits to the flash sales have increased 368% in July 2011 compared to July 2009 and 109% compared to July 2010
  • In July 2011, Zulily.com (targeted towards women and babies/kids) captured the highest market share of visits at 16 percent, followed by Ideeli and LivingSocial Escapes
  • Amazon’s MyHabit ranked 11th out of the 87 websites in the category after only two months in operation
  • Total visits for MyHabit jumped 128 percent between May and July 2011
  • Total visits in last six months to Ideeli increased 42 percent, Gilt.com up 14 percent and Nordstrom's Hautelook up eight percent

Additionally, as seen in the graphic above, visits to flash sales come from nearly all household income brackets defined in this survey, with the most actually stemming from those that have between $30,000 and $99,999 per year.

Although I often argue that daily deal sites (and flash sales could be thrown in the mix) are within a bubble waiting to burst given how many of these businesses keep emerging and filling up the market category too fast. After all, a recent study showed that 52 percent of American consumers are overwhelmed by the amount of emails they receive from these retailers.

However, with the rocky economic climate, it's evident that consumers are warm at least to the concept of heavy discounts, especially on higher-end purchases that are normally far more expensive. Thus, while the number of these businesses might drop off in the next few years as they crowd each other out, flash sales are going to be around for awhile.


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