Black Friday Is a Joke, Too

Cyber Monday may be a joke, but shopping on the Web is anything but. According to the latest data from Akamai's (Nasdaq: AKAM  ) Net Usage Index for Retail, which tracks real-time traffic for more than 270 global e-commerce sites, homebound bargain hunters have never been busier.

The numbers are startling. During the four weeks ending Nov. 20, Web visits to North American e-tailers improved by as much as 30% year over year. Interestingly, the greatest growth came in the first week of the period, right on the cusp of Halloween.

Globally, business was nearly as brisk, trending between 12% and 30%. The week of Nov. 6 showed the greatest gains. Maybe the holiday season really does come earlier every year?

Or maybe it's just that the Web is busier than it's ever been. Cyber Monday certainly was. Akamai says North American traffic peaked at 2.14 million visitors per minute, a 19% gain from last year. Global traffic reached 3.5 million per minute, a 14% improvement.

And today, as I write, the Net Usage Index for Retail shows a 13% gain, with 1.69 million e-tail visitors per minute in North America. That's not much of a slowdown. If anything, it proves that, when it comes to the Web, there's really no such thing as "Black Friday" or "Cyber Monday." Both terms are too arbitrary to have any meaning whatsoever.

That couldn't be better news for Web-savvy investors. Even with the plethora of digital stores there are now, the Web still accounts for only 2% to 3% of all retail sales. That means the likes of Amazon (Nasdaq: AMZN  ) , eBay (Nasdaq: EBAY  ) , and Blue Nile (Nasdaq: NILE  ) remain infants in the wider world, with billions in revenue still left to claim. How's that for an early Christmas gift?

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Fool contributor Tim Beyers, ranked 1,250 out of 14,411 in Motley Fool CAPS, owns shares of Akamai. Get the skinny on everything Tim is invested in by checking his Fool profile. Blue Nile is a pick of both Hidden Gems and Rule Breakers. Amazon and eBay are Stock Advisor selections. The Motley Fool's disclosure policy is a rebel with a cause.

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