Consumers embraced 2018 online holiday shopping with gusto starting on Thanksgiving Day and culminating on Cyber Monday, which became the highest U.S. ecommerce sales day in history with $7.9 billion in revenue. Thanksgiving Day, Black Friday, and Cyber Monday all exhibited healthy year-over-year sales growth. The most popular products were televisions, computers and other electronics, and toys.
Multichannel shopping — i.e., online and in physical stores — was the preference of most consumers across the five days according to the National Retail Federation, with 54 percent of shoppers using this method.
For this 2018 period, direct site traffic was most popular for driving online sales at 27.2 percent share, followed by paid search at 24.0 percent, natural search at 20.9 percent, and email at 20.3 percent. Social media had a negligible effect on online sales with a 1.3 percent share.
On Thanksgiving, online shoppers encountered an out-of-stock message on product pages 3.3 percent of the time, while on Black Friday the figure was 2.8 percent. On Cyber Monday, 2.4 percent of product pages exhibited an out-of-stock message. Cumulatively, this may have cost merchants $484 million in potential sales.
The following statistics are from Adobe Analytics, which measures transactions from 80 of the top 100 U.S. online retailers.
- Thanksgiving Day. Online spending on Thanksgiving 2018 hit $3.7 billion, representing 27.9 growth year-over-year, outpacing 2017’s 18.3 percent growth rate. It is the highest growth rate since 2014. One reason is that many merchants changed their strategy, for the first time charging the same prices on Thanksgiving Day as they did on Black Friday.
Average order values were up 8.0 percent over Thanksgiving Day last year.
- Black Friday. Online sales on Black Friday jumped 23.6 percent from a year ago, to $6.2 billion. More than $2 billion of these revenues came from smartphones with 33.5 percent of total sales attributed to mobile, up from 29 percent last year. Average order value was $146, an increase of 8.5 percent over 2017.
- Cyber Monday was the biggest sales day of the year with online revenues of $7.9 billion, an increase of 19.3 percent over 2017. Mobile transactions soared. Over half of visits — 54.3 percent — came from mobile devices, a year-over-year increase of 55.6 percent.
Amazon issued a statement saying it sold more items on Cyber Monday than any other day in its history including Prime Day 2018, although it didn’t provide specific sales figures.
Online shopping on mobile devices for the entire five-day period showed a significant increase over last year, representing 54.3 percent of site visits (46.6 percent smartphones, 7.7 percent tablets), up 18.9 percent over 2017. Mobile devices collectively accounted for 35.9 percent of revenue, an 18.3 percent year-over-year increase.
While smartphones are becoming more popular for sales, consumers still use them mainly for browsing, especially if they are shopping at smaller ecommerce sites. According to Adobe, larger merchants — over $1 billion in annual sales — have more sophisticated technology in place to convert browsers into buyers. Smaller merchants received more sales from desktops.
Many consumers placed online orders on Thanksgiving Day and scheduled an in-store pick-up on Black Friday. Adobe reports that BOPIS orders — buy online, pick up in store — were up 73 percent from Thursday to Friday. According to the International Council of Shopping Centers, among consumers who utilized BOPIS, 64 percent made an additional in-store purchase. Cyber Monday also saw a spike in BOPIS of 65 percent year-over-year.
Best Buy, J.C. Penney, Kohl’s, and Macy’s were open on Thanksgiving Day. Among the merchants that closed were Crate and Barrel, Dillard’s, IKEA, Nordstrom, Patagonia, and the entire Mall of America, the largest mall in the United States.
In-store foot traffic on Black Friday fell by 1.7 percent compared to last year, according to retail intelligence firm ShopperTrak. Combined in-store visits for Thanksgiving Day and Black Friday were down 1 percent. Retailers that were open on Thanksgiving Day had comparable pricing with Black Friday, contributing to the downturn on Friday and the uptick on Thanksgiving.
RetailNext, which measures in-store traffic at more than 425 retailers, gave a grimmer estimate, saying brick-and-mortar sales on Thanksgiving and Black Friday dropped by as much as 7 percent from last year, while traffic was down 5 to 9 percent.
However, many chains made up for fewer in-store sales by increasing their online sales, mostly from mobile phones. For instance, according to research firm Edison Trends, Target’s online sales on Thanksgiving Day and Black Friday shot up 48 percent over last year, and Macy’s online sales increased 34 percent for the same two days.
- The frenzy of Black Friday brick-and-mortar shopping seems to have waned. People no longer line up outside stores in the early morning to be the first inside.
- More physical stores are either not opening on Thanksgiving or are opening for limited hours. People are content to shop online on Thanksgiving from their smartphones. However many want to pick up their purchases in stores on Black Friday. BOPIS is growing.
- Mobile is how more and more people are buying. It’s important for merchants to make it an uncomplicated experience.