Market Insights

What Black Friday Has Taught Us About The Holiday Season

by | Posted on Nov 29, 2018

Together, Black Friday and Cyber Monday have transformed the way consumers shop and spend. By extension, these “events” have fundamentally altered the way that retailers – both online and off – relate to this time of the year.

Everything is affected, from pricing to inventory levels, search results to shipping deals. We’ll look at how successful organizations are adapting, and what can be learned going into the holiday season and beyond.

Key Black Friday and Cyber Monday Stats

Last year, Black Friday generated a record of $5.03 billion in online sales.

Not only did Black Friday break all online records this year with sales of $6.2 billion, but Forbes notes that on Cyber Monday, American consumers spent $7.8 billion to make it the biggest online shopping day in US history.

Black Friday online sales jumped 23.6% year-on-year, according to Adobe. 33.5% of these purchases were carried out using mobile devices.

In terms of online traffic, visits to the top 100 retail sites soared this year. In the US, Thanksgiving visits to these retail sites came in at just under 300m. On Black Friday, that number was approaching 350m visits, up 10% over last year.

In terms of momentum, a look at last year’s performance shows that sales continued to grow as Christmas got closer, leading to $22bn total sales, with an average of $870m in sales per day – which was, on average, more than double regular days’ sales.

Learnings To Glean

Thanksgiving might herald the start of the Holiday Season, but some of the biggest shopping days are still ahead. After Black Friday, the next biggest shopping days are all in December: from “Super Saturday” to the Sunday before Christmas.

So there is definitely still time to implement some of the lessons learned from Thanksgiving to Cyber Monday.

While online sales are growing at a record pace, foot traffic is down almost across the board at physical stores (down at least 1%). This, of course, points to the well-documented influence of online shopping but contains some warnings, too. Some of the biggest retailers, including Walmart, had issues with their websites over the weekend. Not ideal when physical foot traffic is falling and you’re trying to keep up with the Amazon barrage.

Moreover, traffic is one thing, conversion rates quite another. Amazon still leads this race at 7.9% overall (for Black Friday), compared to Target at 7.2% and Walmart at 6.5%. All the traffic in the world won’t help if your shopping experience isn’t converting visitors to sales.

Thus some key lessons include:

  • Be optimized for mobile
  • Ensure the fundamentals are in place, especially when it comes to website availability
  • All touchpoints must be consistent in order to increase conversions
  • Shoppers are comparing across multiple sites, so all of these touchpoints have to be more attractive the competitors’ (think pricing, graphical assets, search results, shipping deals, and so on).
We Have Turned A Corner

With news of falling foot traffic to brick & mortar stores, along with record-breaking online sales, the opportunity for making inroads in these markets has never been more tantalizing. The jostling between the bigger players like Amazon, Walmart and Target continues, and lessons can be learned from where they are focused now, and in the future.

Finally, it’s clear that to be successful, you have to have the most accurate intelligence on what your competitors are doing, along with the market as a whole. 

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