Sales Report: 2019 Thanksgiving Day, Black Friday, Cyber Monday

Adverse weather conditions in many regions and the ease of ordering via mobile devices contributed to record-setting U.S. digital sales for the 2019 Thanksgiving weekend.

This is my fifth annual “Sales Report” for Thanksgiving Day through Cyber Monday, following installments from 2018, 2017, 2016, and 2015.

Thanksgiving Day

Thanksgiving Day’s record online sales of $4.2 billion in the U.S. represent a 14.5 percent increase from 2018, according to Adobe Analytics, which measures transactions from 80 of the top 100 U.S. online retailers.

Some of the most popular purchased items included Disney’s Frozen 2 toys, Apple AirPods, and Samsung televisions. Forty-five percent of all sales came from smartphones, a 24.4 percent increase over last year’s 33.5 percent share. Consumers also spent a good deal of time browsing on smartphones, clocking 63.4 percent of all visits.

Among the national retailers open on Thanksgiving were Best Buy, Bed Bath and Beyond, Kohl’s, and Walmart. J.C. Penney, Macy’s, and Target had limited hours, and in general no large crowds were waiting to get into stores.

Black Friday

According to Adobe Analytics, consumers spent $7.4 billion online, an increase of $1.2 billion over Black Friday 2018, making it the biggest Black Friday ever for digital sales. Average order value — at $168 — was up nearly 6 percent year-over-year and also set a new Black Friday record. However, online revenues were slightly under Adobe’s $7.5 billion prediction for the day.

Smartphone sales on Black Friday, at $2.9 billion, were the largest ever for mobile shopping and were up 21 percent over last year. Sixty-one percent of all traffic came from mobile devices, and 39 percent of all ecommerce sales were made on a smartphone. Larger ecommerce merchants received more sales via smartphones than smaller ones.

Black Friday sales for buy-online-pickup-in-store outperformed non-BOPIS by 64 percent.

Buying products online and picking them up in a local store, such as at a Walmart, is becoming more popular. Black Friday BOPIS sales increased 64 percent in 2019 over 2018.

Buying products online and picking them up in a local store, such as at a Walmart, is becoming more popular. Black Friday BOPIS sales increased 64 percent in 2019 over 2018.

Cyber Monday

Based on Adobe Analytics data, a record $9.4 billion was spent online by the end of Cyber Monday, an increase of 19.7 percent from 2018. It was the largest online shopping day of all time in the U.S., easily surpassing last year’s $7.9 billion. After 10 p.m. on Cyber Monday proved to be a popular time to shop, generating almost 30 percent of total revenue. Mobile transactions soared, with $3.1 billion — 33 percent — of total online sales coming from smartphones. That is 46 percent more than in 2018.

Consumers apparently did not want to wait to receive their orders; instead, they opted for BOPIS, driving a 43-percent increase in such orders over last year. Cyber Monday conversions at BOPIS retailers outperformed non-BOPIS retailers by 45 percent, according to Adobe.

Top sellers on Cyber Monday were Frozen 2 toys, L.O.L. Surprise Dolls, NERF products, Madden NFL 20 video game, Nintendo Switch, Star Wars Jedi Fallen Order game, Samsung TVs, Fire TV, AirPods, and Air Fryers.

According to Adobe Analytics, both large retailers (over $1 billion in yearly revenue) and small retailers (less than $50 million) did well on Cyber Monday. Big box retailers saw a 540-percent surge in sales over an average day, while smaller merchants garnered a 337-percent increase.

While not providing revenue data, Amazon stated that Cyber Monday 2019 was its biggest shopping day ever based on the number of items sold globally. The company revealed that its biggest selling items were Keurig coffee makers, Oral-B electric toothbrushes, Champion fleece hoodies, and Amazon devices such as the Echo Dot.

Sales Drivers

Starting November 1, BOPIS sales have grown 40.9 percent over 2018, with consumers 20 percent more likely to convert with retailers who offer this service. This was especially true on the big shopping days.

Throughout the holiday season, paid search has ranked highest for driving revenue, representing a 24.4-percent share of sales, followed by direct traffic at 21.2 percent, and natural search at 18.8 percent. Email has seen an uptick at 16.8 percent, up 9 percent over 2018. Social media continues to have minimal impact on driving online sales with only a 2.6-percent share.


Disagreement as to whether in-store sales grew or declined compared to last year are evident. Brick-and-mortar Black Friday sales were up 4.2 percent over last year, according to an annual “SpendTrend Holiday Snapshot” from First Data, with an average ticket amount of $60, a $1 increase over last year.

However, figures from ShopperTrak show Black Friday brick-and-mortar retail sales fell by 6.2 percent compared to last year while Thanksgiving Day in-store sales rose 2.3 percent.

RetailNext provided in-store shopping data based on results from stores operating on its Smart Store platform. It reports that Black Friday foot traffic was down 2.1 percent from last year, average transaction values fell 6.7 percent, and overall sales declined 1.6 percent.

The big in-store winners on Black Friday were Target and Walmart, according to Wall Street retail analysts. Both attracted crowds of shoppers, and electronics and toys were the hot items at both stores.

Consumer Confidence

Despite concerns about a recession and a trade war, consumers continued to show confidence in the economy and did not let these issues affect their holiday purchasing.

Marcia Kaplan
Marcia Kaplan
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