As was predicted in the run up to the Black Friday weekend, this most-important five-day period on the calendar was a record-setting one for retailers. But the main driver behind the impressive numbers was retailers’ performance online.
Data for Cyber Monday is still incomplete, but according to Adobe Analytics, the combined total’s from Thanksgiving Day and Black Friday was $7.9 billion for online sales, up 17.9 percent from last year. On it’s own, Black Friday brought in north of $5 billion. That data comes from the largest 100 U.S. web retailers, according to Adobe. The firm said it expects Monday’s figure to reach $6.6 billion in internet sales, which would make it the single largest U.S. online shopping day in history.
“Shoppers capitalized on deep discounts on Black Friday, resulting in the largest Black Friday online ever with online spend totaling $5.03 billion," Taylor Schreiner, Director of Adobe Digital Insights, said via Mashable. "Conversion rates across all devices saw double digit growth throughout Black Friday. As we kick off Small Business Saturday, online sales are trending slightly lower than expected. However, the entire holiday season continues to see exponential growth with Cyber Monday expected to be the largest US online shopping day in history.”
The clear winner this past weekend—aside from consumers who scored incredible deals—was ecommerce. Data from multi-channel commerce platform Shopify showed that online sales experienced incredible growth over last year. The firm did a really cool job of visualizing online sales performance through their “live sales” tracker on YouTube (below) and their visual dashboard.
Reporting on the performance of its own clients, Shopify showed that, at its peak, their platform reached $1 million in sales per minute. That’s nearly double last year’s high of $555,716.
Consumers also started their online shopping early this year. On Thanksgiving, orders peaked at roughly 2,800 per minute, and then quadrupled on Black Friday, topping more than 10,000 orders per minute.
As for the platform of choice, mobile was the clear winner, according to Shopify. According to their data, 66 percent of orders were made on tablets or smartphones, up from 58 percent last year. Desktop sales came in at 34 percent, down from 42 percent last year.
The most shopped categories (again, according to data provided by retailers using the Spotify platform) included apparel (1.02 million items bought), accessories (635,000), and housewares (382,000). Electronics was sixth on their list with just shy of 100,000 items bought as of publication.
Physical Store Frustrations
General consensus among the industry that physical retail performance—especially for big box retailers—was rather tepid. In-store traffic appeared thin, and plenty of those who did shop in-store were seen leaving empty-handed.
Data released late Saturday provided the empirical evidence to support those sentiments. According to ShopperTrak, a Tyco Retail Solutions brand, preliminary brick-and-mortar shopping data from Thanksgiving Thursday and Black Friday showed that overall shopper visits to retail stores was down 1.6 percent compared to last year. Despite the year-over-year decline, the firm still saw plenty of positives from the weekend. In particular, the decline, which was expected, wasn’t as dramatic (according to their numbers) as most analysts believed it would be.
“There has been a significant amount of debate surrounding the shifting importance of brick-and-mortar retail, and the fact that shopper visits remained intact on Black Friday illustrates that physical retail is still highly relevant and, when done right, profitable,” Brian Field, senior director of advisory services for ShopperTrak, said in a statement emailed to Dealerscope.
Additionally, Field said that a greater number of stores opting to remain closed on Thanksgiving—as opposed to following the growing trend of opening that evening—had a positive impact on Black Friday foot traffic for many brick-and-mortar stores.
“Based on several years of overall retail traffic data, we know that opening on Thanksgiving Day was merely pulling shopping visits from Black Friday, as opposed to creating an additional opportunity for shoppers to hit the stores,” he said. “By remaining closed on Thanksgiving Day, retailers are able to re-distribute visits to the days before Thanksgiving Day, as well as this weekend. Further, remaining closed on Thanksgiving Day also contributes to lower overhead and increased goodwill.”
Looking ahead, retailers have plenty to remain excited about this holiday season, according to ShopperTrak. The firm said that eight of the 10 days that it anticipates being the busiest shopping days of the year are still on the calendar, including Super Saturday (the last Saturday before Christmas), which falls on December 23rd this year. Retailers will also have a full weekend after Christmas this year—December 30 and 31—which wasn’t the case last year.