It’s safe to say the retail holiday season started off with a bang — in late October. While we often think of Black Friday as the true kickoff to holiday shopping, this year’s late Thanksgiving condensed the shopping season by six days. This drove brands to begin promotions weeks earlier. Retailers like Walmart started to roll out holiday savings before Halloween this year.
Early or prolonged savings meant a steady sales stream in November and a lackluster Cyber 5 (Thanksgiving through Cyber Monday) for some retailers. However, most retailers experienced record-breaking sales, leading to a 17.7% .growth in online sales during those days. Our retail clients saw strong sales leading up to Thanksgiving, but growth really picked up on Black Friday. Cyber Monday topped it all when it came to sales from search — with a 29% increase over Black Friday sales.
It’s no surprise that in-store visits are on a decline this holiday season. ShopperTrak reported that Black Friday store visits decreased 6.2% from last year. According to Adobe, Black Friday had “the biggest day ever for mobile” with $2.9 billion in sales made from smartphones alone — a 21% increase from last year. Consumers prefer the convenience of shopping from their phones where it’s easier to comparison shop rather than go store to store, fighting the crowds.
If consumers do venture out to stores, they want to be certain the products they want are available —this is evident as BOPIS (buy online, pickup in store) usage during Cyber 5 grew 47.8% year over year. Retailers that offer BOPIS have a competitive advantage in driving incremental revenue when patrons come to stores for pickup because it drives greater online conversions. On Black Friday, conversion rates at BOPIS retailers outperformed non-BOPIS retailers by 64%.
What’s Yet to Come?
- BOPIS growth: Adobe expects BOPIS share of revenue to jump up 2x in the week leading up to Christmas, compared to what it typically is in the holiday season. To get a leg up on competition, retailers that offer BOPIS need to ensure that it’s clear in their communications.
- Gift cards purchases: We anticipate more gift cards to be promoted and purchased as the holiday season wraps up. Target may be setting the trend in gift card offers, as it introduced 10% off gift card purchases (with a $300 purchase limit) on December 8.
- Deeper discounts: Some retailers may need to make up for softer Cyber 5 sales. Others may simply want to move inventory. Whatever the case, there are more discounts to be had — some even deeper than what was offered during Cyber 5.
- Paid social growth: Experts claim that shopping on social media is “set to surge” this holiday season. Social sites like Facebook, Instagram, Pinterest, Snapchat, Twitter, and YouTube are continuing to evolve their e-commerce features, and retailers will continue to invest in them. We expect retailers to put almost half of their online media budgets into paid social ads.
- More email: According to Adobe, 8% more emails are sent per day during the holidays, compared to the rest of the year. Why? Because it’s an effective way to engage shoppers. Our clients often see up to a significant uptick in click-through rates and conversion rates as shoppers are ready to save during the holiday season.
I look forward to seeing how the holiday retail season pans out.
I'll be hosting a webinar January 14th to recap the trends we saw this holiday season. Sign up here.