Cyber Week was a fruitful period for online retail, with Cyber Monday becoming the biggest online shopping day in the US ever, according to data from Adobe Analytics. The report finds that consumers spent $12.4 billion online on Cyber Monday, up an impressive 9.6% year-over-year. During the peak hour of 10-11PM ET, shoppers spent a staggering $15.7 million online each minute.

Apparel was reportedly a “clear winner” in terms of sales growth versus the average day in October (+189%), with online sales growth also more than doubling their average October day for appliances (+166%), toys (+140%), furniture (+129%), and electronics (+103%).

The bill is yet to come due for some consumers, though. Adobe reports that the use of Buy Now, Pay Later (BNPL) grew by a massive 42.5% year-over-year during Cyber Monday, contributing almost one billion ($940 million) in online spending. In other words, about 1 in every $13 spent online during Cyber Monday was to be paid at a later date.

Meanwhile, online sales were up across all of the key Cyber Week days: Adobe tallied record online spending on Thanksgiving Day ($5.6 billion; up 5.5% year-over-year); Black Friday ($9.8 billion; up 7.5%); and the weekend ($10.3 billion; up 7.7%).

In a notable milestone, smartphones overtook desktops in driving the majority (51.8%) of online sales during Cyber Week, up from just under half (49.9%) last year. Thanksgiving Day paced the pack with 59% of online sales coming from smartphones, up from 55% last year.

Search was the biggest driver of sales for retailers during the period (27% share), followed by direct traffic (21%), organic search (17%) and email (15%).

Here’s a look at the latest data from other sources regarding the period from Thanksgiving through Cyber Monday:

  • For its part, Salesforce reports that US online sales grew by 5% during the Cyber Week period to reach $70.4 billion. Unlike Adobe, Salesforce finds that growth was more rapid on Black Friday (+9%) than on Cyber monday (+3%) in the US. While the US exceeded the global rate of growth on Black Friday (+8%), it lagged the global growth rate on Cyber Monday (+5%). Globally, a new high of 79% of Cyber Week e-commerce traffic was on mobile phones, up from 76% last year, and social traffic on mobile was a big driver, contributing to 10% of all referral traffic to retailer websites. As with Adobe, Salesforce notes that deep discounts were offered by retailers, which helped to drive sales.
  • Traffic to e-commerce stores around the world grew by 10.6% year-over-year on Black Friday, though sales were down by 11.6%, as a result of a 26.4% decline in conversion rates, according to Nosto’s analysis of e-commerce stores using its platform. The outcome was better on Cyber Monday despite another drop in conversion rates (-20.6%) as total sales grew by just over 10%, buoyed by an 8.35% increase in traffic and a 1.7% increase in average order value.
  • Retailers see plenty of first-time shoppers on Black Friday, says Bluecore, which reveals in its analysis that a majority (53% share) of online purchases across all analyzed retail categories on Black Friday came from first-time buyers. First-time buyers accounted for a larger share of purchases for smaller brands (58%) than for large enterprises (38%). Overall, site traffic was down by about 1.5%: Health & Beauty traffic registered a particularly large increase (+14.55%), while traffic to the Consumer Electronics vertical fell by roughly 19.5%. These were the verticals with the largest increases and decreases, respectively, last year also.
  • Consumers weren’t just shopping online on Black Friday. According to initial RetailNext data, physical store traffic in the US grew by 2.1% year-over-year on Black Friday, though that was down from a 7% increase last year. Health and Beauty brands enjoyed the biggest increase in foot traffic (+13%), followed by Jewelry brands (+7%).
  • A record 200.4 million Americans shopped in-store or online over the holiday shopping period from Thanksgiving through Cyber Monday, the NRF reports, besting the previous peak of 196.7 million set last year and far exceeding the NRF’s initial forecast of 182 million shoppers. The survey of almost 3,500 adults suggests that while the number of people visiting brick-and-mortar stores dipped slightly from 122.7 million last year to 121.4 million this year, the number of online shoppers grew by 4 million, from 130.2 million to 134.2 million. Black Friday was the most popular day for in-store shopping, growing from 72.9 to 76.2 million shoppers, and was also the most popular day for online shopping, at 90.6 million shoppers (up from 87.2 million last year). By comparison, roughly 73 million consumers shopped online on Cyber Monday, which was down from an estimated 77 million last year.
  • Finally, data from Sensormatics also shows an increase in Black Friday in-store shopper traffic, by 4.6% over last year, marking “the most significant YOY increase the industry has seen in recent memory (outside of pandemic years).” Whereas last year foot traffic to brick-and-mortar stores and shopping centers dipped on the weekend following Black Friday, this year it was up by 2.8% on the Saturday and by 1% on the Sunday.

Previously Published Research

Another year has somehow rolled on by, and it’s that time again: the holiday season is upon us, and that means… retail forecasts. Here’s a look at what the season has in store, according to some representative pieces of research.

The following list provides a brief review of some forecasts, showing the source, link, whether the forecast is higher (⬆︎) or lower (⬇︎) than last year’s, along with a highlighted takeaway or two.

  • NRF: ⬇︎. Holiday retail sales will grow again this year and are actually forecast to reach a new record high, but for the second consecutive year the forecast isn’t as strong as it was a year earlier. The NRF is calling for 3-4% year-over-year growth in holiday sales, as compared to the 6-8% rise that it predicted at this time last year. (Eventual growth didn’t meet that forecast, at 5.3%.) This year, total sales are expected near a trillion dollars, with the projection coming in at between $957.3 and $966.6 billion. Online and other non-store sales are predicted to grow by 7-9% to a range of $273.3-$278.8 billion, which implies that these channels will account for 28-29% of total holiday retail sales.
  • Deloitte: ⬇︎. Holiday retail sales growth will be close to last year’s forecast, per Deloitte. This year the firm predicts an increase of 3.5-4.6%, compared to last year’s forecast of a 4-6% year-over-year gain. (Deloitte says the actual rise was 7.6%.) The total dollar amount to be spent on the holiday season is much higher than projected by the NRF, at $1.54-$1.56 trillion in sales. Deloitte also expects that online retail sales will grow at a slightly slower pace than they forecast last year. This year the prediction is for e-commerce sales growth of 10.3%-12.8% – to between $278 and $284 billion – whereas last year the firm called for an 12.8-14.3% hike. This year’s hike would put e-commerce at around 18% of total sales.

    Highlighted finding: In its holiday retail survey [pdf] of more than 4,000 consumers, Deloitte found that in-store shopping preference has returned to pre-pandemic levels, and social media usage has also leveled off. Also of note, the firm reports that the average shopping duration has shrunk from an average of 7.4 weeks in 2019 to 5.8 this year.
  • ICSC: ⬇︎. Holiday sales will grow despite the economic climate, but the forecast isn’t nearly as bright as it was last year. This time, ICSC predicts a 3.8% rise in October-December retail sales, which comes in well below last year’s 6.7% forecast rate.

    Highlighted finding: In its accompanying survey of more than 1,000 respondents, ICSC reports a conflicting finding from Deloitte, in that “this year will continue the trend of consumers starting their holiday shopping earlier and spreading it out throughout the season.” Perhaps more importantly is what’s driving that sentiment: among those who planned to shop earlier for the holidays, about half (51%) were planning to do so for the early promotions. Another interesting result is that consumers plan to make their purchases at fewer retailers this year, with an average of 2.4 different types, as opposed to 3.4 last year.
  • AlixPartners: ⬇︎. Despite having a forecast that’s generally in line with the others above, AlixPartners is predicting an “underwhelming” rise in retail sales this year. The global consulting firm figures that sales will increase by 3-6% this year, down from 4-7% last year.

    Highlighted finding: Sticking with the shopping season length, in its survey of more than 1,000 consumers, AlixPartners discovered that only 38% of respondents intended to start their holiday shopping before Halloween, down from 46% last year and 53% the year prior. Separately, planned cuts in spending are expected to hit the home furnishings, jewelry and watches and accessories categories the most, with footwear, toys, and apparel more likely to be spared deep cuts.
  • Adobe: ⬆︎ (Online spending). There have been a lot of arrows pointing down (relative to last year), but Adobe is zigging where others are zagging, at least with respect to online spending. Indeed, online spending growth for this year’s holiday season (Nov-Dec) will be up by 4.8% year-over-year, a more robust forecast than last year’s forecast 2.5% rise, according to Adobe’s forecast. Total online spending for the season is predicted to reach $221.8 billion.

    Highlighted finding: Cyber Week will account for about one-sixth (16.8% share) of the entire holiday season’s online revenue, with Cyber Monday expected to see the fastest year-over-year growth rate. In a milestone set to be met, shopping on mobile devices is projected to drive more than half (51.2%) of all online spending for the first time, surpassing desktops. Meanwhile, record discounts (of up to 35% off listed prices) and growing usage of Buy Now Pay Later (BNPL) will contribute to spending growth.
  • NetElixir: ⬆︎ (Online spending). As with Adobe, NetElixir predicts a higher rate of e-commerce sales growth this year than last. The firm’s forecast calls for a 9% hike in online spending during the November and December holiday shopping period, exceeding last year’s forecast of 7% growth. Aggregate e-commerce spending is expected to surpass 20% share of total retail sales.

    Highlighted finding: Marketplaces will account for the majority of total online sales this year, at 55-58%.
  • Salesforce: ⬇︎ (Online spending). Well, it couldn’t be unanimous: unlike Adobe and NetElixir, Salesforce is predicting slower growth in US e-commerce sales this holiday period. Its prediction is for just a 1% increase in online spending during the November and December holiday shopping period, down from last year’s prediction of 3% growth.

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