Consumers happily opened their wallets in the 2018 holiday season, resulting in a five percent increase in spending over 2017, with sales to online and brick-and-mortar merchants in the United States reaching $850 billion from November 1 through December 24, according to Mastercard SpendingPulse.
Online spending grew by 19.1 percent compared to 2017 and contributed over 13 percent to total holiday sales. Adobe Analytics reports that between November 1 and December 19, U.S. shoppers spent $110.5 billion online, a 17.8 percent increase over the same period last year.
Sales at brick-and-mortar department stores suffered a 1.3 percent decline from 2017, partially due to the many store closings in 2018, according to Mastercard. However online sales for department stores grew a healthy 10.2 percent.
Online spending grew by 19.1 percent compared to 2017 and contributed over 13 percent to total holiday sales.
Apparel made a strong showing with online sales growing 7.9 percent over 2017. This was the largest increase since 2010.
Home improvement products were popular with consumers, with online spending during the holiday season up 9.0 percent over last year.
Online sales for home furniture and furnishings category grew by 2.3 percent, and electronics grew by 8.5 percent.
The top-selling electronics and toy products online, according to Adobe Analytics, were:
- Nintendo Switch,
- Super Smash Bros. Ultimate,
- LG and Samsung televisions,
- Fire TV, Roku, and Chromecast (video streaming devices).
According to Adobe Analytics, mobile spending rose 57 percent from November 1 through December 19 over the same period in 2017.
Smartphones represented 50.0 percent of internet traffic and 30.1 percent of internet sales ($33.3 billion) while tablets represented 8.3 percent of traffic and 8.9 percent of internet sales through December 19. Desktops generated 42 percent of traffic and $67.4 billion in sales, representing 61 percent of total online sales.
Buy online, pick up in-store was the biggest trend for holiday shopping in 2018.
Spending increased 47 percent from November 1 to December 19 compared to a year ago according to Adobe Analytics. As in-store shopping declines, brick-and-mortar retailers see BOPIS as crucial to their survival. It also appeals to retailers as they avoid expensive shipping fees.
Brick-and-mortar retailers that have embraced BOPIS include Walmart, which offers in-store pick up in nearly all of its 4,700 stores in the United States. Target has drive-up delivery to customers’ cars in about 1,000 stores.
Electronics and clothing were the most popular categories for BOPIS.
Amazon reported that more than 50 percent of items sold over the holiday came from small and medium-sized businesses in its marketplace.
Smart home devices were popular with customers this year. Amazon ran out of some Echo speakers. The most popular Amazon devices included all-new Echo Dot, Fire TV Stick 4K with new Alexa Voice Remote, and Echo.
Other best-selling smart home devices included Amazon Smart Plug (smart electrical outlets), Ring Video Doorbell 2 (to see who is at the door), TP-Link Kasa Smart Plug Mini Outlet (smart outlets), and the iRobot Roomba 690 (vacuums).
U.K. Sales Decline
Sales in the United Kingdom on Black Friday were quite poor, and brick-and-mortar and internet retailers responded with deeper discounts. However, sales did not pick up and the holiday shopping season was a disappointment. Most analysts attribute this to the uncertainty surrounding Brexit.
Shoppers also attributed their reluctance to high prices, despite the discounts. Boxing Day (December 26) traditionally generates big sales in the U.K. but this year in-store shopper numbers on that day fell by 3.1 percent from 2017.
See 2019 results, at “2019 Holiday Sales Wrap-up.”