Year after year, records seem to break, with online retail gaining traction at a higher pace than ever anticipated. Adobe published their annual Holiday sales report and analysis, showing the trends, forecasts, and interest of US shoppers. If, in 2017, Holiday Season sales reached $43.5 billion, this year (Nov. 1 – Nov. 25) surpassed all expectations and reached a whopping $50.62 billion. This is even greater than the forecasts, which were around $49.5 billion.

This year also marks a new all-time record for Black Friday online spending: 6.22 billion dollars, compared to $5.03 billion in 2017.

On Thanksgiving, US shoppers spent around 3,7 billion dollars, nearly $900 mil. more than last year’s $2,87 billion. The 28% increase from the previous year might not mean that much alone, but coupled with the 31.8% increase in sales from the day before Thanksgiving ($2.38 billion), the 23% increase for Black Friday, and the 29% increase on Veterans’ Day, it represents a consistent increase throughout all the major discount days.

Even if retailers are intensifying their efforts to be mobile first, desktop still holds the crown when it comes to revenue. According to Adobe, desktop shopping has a share of around 60% of the total online revenue for the Holiday Season, with $30.7 billion. Smartphone shopping comes in second, with 30% revenue – around $15.3 billion, while tablet comes in last, with only 10% share of the revenue – $4.7 billion.

This Holiday Season also marked the first time US shoppers spent more than 1 billion dollars from their smartphones in a day, on Thanksgiving, and more than 2 billion dollars if we add Black Friday to the list as well.

The hottest products for consumers on Thanksgiving were: Nintendo Switch, Beats headphones, Hot Wheels, Red Dead Redemption 2 and Hatchibabies. For Black Friday, Laptops were the number 1 preference for US shoppers, followed by L.O.L. Surprises, Fingerlings, Let’s Go Pikachu/ Eevee and God of War games.

However, the biggest online shopping day in history to date remains Alibaba’s 10th annual Singles Day sale, which took place on 11/11 this year and managed to reach $30.8 billion in sales. This represents a 27% hike year on year, setting a new record for the platform.

What Does This Mean for Your Analytics Practice

1. Smartphones are responsible for more than 50% of the overall traffic

One of the most interesting insights revealed during this Holiday season is that, while the largest share of income was generated through desktop, smartphones are responsible for more than 50% of the overall traffic. Desktop generated 42% of the traffic, but more than 60% of all purchases, while tablet traffic was only 8%.

This means that people are researching for items on mobile, but the actual purchasing is finished at a desktop computer.

This represents a great opportunity for the analytics industry. Retailers are in dire need to optimize their apps and websites, to deliver a user experience as smooth as possible.

2. Retailers need all the help they can get to understand their clients, to engage at a deeper level

This is true especially considering how competitive the e-commerce industry is. Analysts can deliver those insights that retailers crave for. Our industry can help online businesses with everything from what to change to their websites/apps, how to better position their products, help them get tracking in place to create remarketing lists, understand when where and why along the purchasing funnel a potential client is stopping.

3. Enable digital transformation 

Another opportunity is to be found waiting in the offline stores that are yet to go digital. Many brick-and-mortar businesses will soon need to get an online presence to even survive. And careful planning, thorough implementation, and smart marketing are key to any successful digital transformation.

Offline retail is struggling

While online retail seems to spread its wings and fly, offline retail slows down again. However, people are still interested in physical stores. The rate of people who buy online, but choose to pick up in store grew 119% since January.

Part of the reason for the downfall of brick-and-mortar stores is that you can find the same – or even better – offers online. You don’t have to get up in the cold, ‘fight’ other shoppers to the shelves and face crowds of equally annoyed people who are stuck in traffic jams or parking lots.

Foot traffic fell again on Black Friday in the US stores. Visits by shoppers were down 1.7% from 2017 on Black Friday, which was down 1,6% from the similar period of 2016. On the other hand, consumers spent 37 million dollars an hour online through Shopify alone, according to market reports.

You might also be interested to read: Traditional retail is struggling to breathe, while e-commerce steals the crown

About the author

Sebastian Stan

Sebastian is a journalist and digital strategist with years of experience in the news industry, social media, content creation & management, and digital analytics.