Early figures from US online retailers show that mobile traffic over Thanksgiving was up 160% on last year.

The statistics from mobile platform company Usablenet show that traffic was actually heavier on Thanksgiving day than on ‘Black Friday’, which is traditionally seen as the busiest shopping day.

Usablenet, which powers the mobile sites for more than 100 US retailers (as well as M&S, John Lewis and others), says this is because consumers were searching for deals on Thursday before heading to the shops on Friday.

Black Friday usage turned to supporting instore activity such as find locations, reviews and to access saved wish lists.

Jason Taylor, Usablenet VP of technology, said that the figures should be a wake up call for retailers who don’t have mobile optimised websites:

Even now about 25% of the companies in the top 200 retailers don’t have mobile sites, so they are missing out on traffic and conversions.

Usablenet doesn’t track the amount of transactions that take place through its mobile sites, but Taylor said reports suggest that mobile payments are increasing as consumers become more comfortable with the technology.

Though the statistics are for US retailers, Taylor believes the growth rate for mobile traffic on UK sites is likely to be even higher.

We tend to find that the number of UK retailers with mobiles sites is 18 months to two years behind the US, but the number of consumers ready to use mobile is rocketing so the demand is there.

Statistics we reported earlier this month show that 70% of UK companies are yet to launch mobile optimised sites, though 38 out of the nation’s top 50 retailers are already mobile optimised.

And in the run up to Christmas several retailers have started to utilise mobile to drive traffic to their websites or attract consumers into stores.

House of Fraser has announced a tie up with O2 to launch a multichannel campaign which utilises a range of O2’s services, and John Lewis is currently trialling a virtual shop window in Waitrose Brighton that uses QR codes to link consumers to its website.

Usablenet took a sampling of 120m pages and 8m users that its platform servered over the two days, and these stats are further evidence that a comprehensive mobile strategy is integral to a retailer’s marketing activities.