Black Friday weekend is over and done, with no more opportunities to offer Black Friday deals, except perhaps by reference (“Lower than Black Friday prices!”). And Cyber Monday is also done, with many retailers extending their supposedly Monday-only deals into the rest of the week.
According to JLL, a professional services firm that specializes in real estate and investment management, over 54% of consumers will have at least started shopping by Cyber Monday. With so many consumers already with skin in the game, how is the holiday season shaping up?
Here are the high points, including how they could possibly impact overall holiday results:
- The holidays are off to a great start. Despite reports that store traffic was down again (and with no sales figures to go along with those traffic numbers), even traditional brick & mortar retailers seem to be seeing strong demand this holiday season.
- Looking at inventory vs. price, retailers have been discounting, but not at outrageous levels. At least in digital channels, shoppers overall appear to be buying more items, and doing so at a higher price point than last year, which is part of why online sales especially are off to a gangbuster start.
- The holidays so far have not been a story of stores vs. online, but rather one of mobile. Mobile traffic was up significantly, mobile conversion rates were up, average order values on mobile were up. What’s not clear is how much of that mobile shopping actually happened in stores. As you’ll see from some of the data below, Walmart’s strategy of offering lower prices in stores on Black Friday seemed to pay off, as the website experienced higher levels of traffic on Thanksgiving Day and then dropped off for Black Friday – presumably because shoppers were in stores instead. Other retailers like Kohl’s and Best Buy did not see a drop off like that.
Things To Watch
- Inventory levels. Consumers were able to buy what they wanted over the last week, without many stories of out of stocks. This doesn’t seem to be a season with a lot of big, high-profile shortages like the Nintendo NES Classic or Hatchimal frenzy of 2016. One consequence may be that consumers feel comfortable they’ll be able to find what they want all season long and don’t rush out to buy the things on their list after the first Black Friday rush. Or, it means consumers DID buy most of the things on their list, and sales may yet stall out. One easy way to tell which way the wind is blowing is to look at retailers’ shelves over the next two weeks. If things start piling up, then the early concentration of spending may be stalling out.
- If retailers feel like inventory is starting to pile up, they will panic, and panic will lead to steep discounts as the season progresses. Who takes the first big markdown and how loudly they publicize it will reveal the retailers feeling the least confident about how the holiday season is going. On the other hand, if those promotions don’t come, then that’s a sign retailers are pretty happy with how things are playing out.
Where the Data Came From
From Adobe Digital Insights, which measures 80% of the online transactions at the US 100 largest web retailers:
- Online spend increased 16.9% YoY on Black Friday
- Top selling items included the Nintendo Switch, Hachimals, and Colleggtibles toys, PJ Masks, LOL Surprise Dolls, ride-on cars, Chromecast, and Roku.
- Thanksgiving weekend 10.1% growth in online spending.
- Small Business Saturday saw the highest smartphone share-of-visits of the season to date, at 46.5% (not including tablets)
- Cyber Monday was up 16.8% YoY – the largest US online shopping day in history at $6.59B, more than a billion dollar increase over LY.
- Mobile had its first $2B day on Cyber Monday. Conversion rate on smartphones was up 10.1% to a rate of 3.5%.
- AOV for Cyber Monday was up 0.1% YoY.
From Rakuten Marketing, a marketing platform used by retailers:
- Combined revenue growth across Thanksgiving Day and Black Friday was up 23% YoY
- On Thanksgiving Day, online revenue grew 28% YoY and online purchases grew 35% YoY [this says that retailers made more money online on Thanksgiving Day, but did it either with lower price points, more promotions, or generally lower-priced goods]
- Online revenue on Black Friday grew 21% YoY, and average order value grew 24% even while the number of items per order was down 3% – bigger ticket items.
- Click-through rates on online ads grew 154% YoY in the week prior to Thanksgiving.
- Mobile revenue was up 43% during the Sunday-Friday of Thanksgiving week, items per order up 34%, and AOV up 7%.
From Shopify, a global eCommerce company with data from over 500,000 merchants – a good indicator of what’s going on in SMB retail:
- Sales going through their platform topped $1M per minute during Black Friday’s shopping peak, almost double the rate of last year
- 66% of orders on Black Friday were made on mobile phones or tablets. This pushed desktop orders down from 42% last year to 34% this year.
- Mobile sales through the platform reached 60% of total sales, an increase of 10% YoY.
- Black Friday weekend is now a global phenomenon – UK merchants saw an increase of 46% in sales across that weekend vs. their average day online. In Spain 35% increase, in South Africa, 41%.
- Apparel & accessories were the largest product categories sold, followed by housewares.
From SimilarWeb, a web traffic analytics platform:
- com saw 11% more traffic on Thanksgiving than on Black Friday vs. Bestbuy.com, which saw equal traffic on both days.
- Based on web traffic, Amazon and Walmart increased their combined market share by 1.5%, while Target, JCPenney, and Sears all lost ground.
- Target lost 5.7M site visits across Thanksgiving/Black Friday compared to 2017.
- Cyber Monday may be bigger than ever, but overall traffic is still less than on Black Friday – down 8% compared to BF, similar to 2016. Mobile traffic was up 33% on the day compared to LY
- Walmart and Amazon increased their combined market share by 2.5% on Cyber Monday, mostly at the expense of Etsy and Groupon.
From Solactive-ProShares Bricks & Mortar Retail Store Index, a public stock index that is composed of retailers that derive 75% or more of retail revenue from in-store sales: the index closed up 0.58% on Cyber Monday. Since its launch on November 16, the total return index is up 2.66%, which reflects a certain level of confidence by Wall Street investors that traditional retail may do all right this holiday season.