Black Friday, Cyber Monday Traffic Generate Gains

Holiday spending is showing some better than expected momentum — so far, at least, based on reports emanating Tuesday on the key stretch from Thanksgiving Day to Cyber Monday.

Adobe reported Tuesday that consumers spent a total of $12.4 billion on Cyber Monday, up 9.6 percent year-over-year and surpassing the software giant’s initial projection of $12 billion.

Shopify, which powers the e-commerce sites of brands and retailers around the world, reported Tuesday that from the start of Black Friday through Cyber Monday its merchants totaled $9.3 billion in sales, representing a 24 percent increase from the $7.5 billion during the same period in 2022.

In another positive report, the National Retail Federation said a record 200.4 million consumers shopped over the five-day holiday weekend period, surpassing last year’s record of 196.7 million. The figures, based on its survey in conjunction with Prosper Insights & Analytics, surpassed NRF’s expectations of 182 million shoppers.

“The surge in consumer demand can be attributed to two factors — deep discounting on items such as clothing, personal care, toys, shoes and electronics, and more consumers turning to buy now, pay later options to help finance their shopping,” said Sudip Mazumder, senior vice president, retail Industry lead, North America at digital consultancy Publicis Sapient.

Amazon revealed Tuesday that its extended Black Friday and Cyber Monday holiday shopping event, which kicked off Nov. 17 and continued through Nov. 27, was its biggest compared to the same 11-day period ending on Cyber Monday in previous years. “Customers around the world purchased more than 1 billion items on Amazon, with shoppers saving nearly 70 percent more on Amazon during the 11 days of deals compared to the same period last year,” the company said. Amazon will be dropping new deals every day through Dec. 24, including up to 30 percent off Keurig coffee brewers, Hasbro toys, DeWalt tools and Sony headphones.

“The 2023 holiday shopping season began with a lot of uncertainty, as consumers shifted their spending to services, while dealing with rising costs across different facets of their lives. The record online spending across Cyber Week, however, shows the impact that discounts can have on consumer demand, especially with quality products that drove a lot of impulse shopping,” Vivek Pandya, lead analyst at Adobe Digital Insights, said in a statement.

“The five-day period between Thanksgiving and Cyber Monday represents some of the busiest shopping days of the year and reflects the continued resilience of consumers and strength of the economy,” NRF president and chief executive officer Matthew Shay said in his statement. “Shoppers exceeded our expectations with a robust turnout.”

In a press conference, Shay said the turnout spoke to not only how consumers felt about spending but also to the deals offered by retailers and the favorable weather through Thanksgiving to Cyber Monday, which was largely dry, sunny and cooler than earlier in the month in most of the country.

The NRF indicated that 121.4 million people visited physical retail locations either to browse or purchase, slightly less than the 122.7 million in 2022. Online shoppers totaled 134.2 million, up from 130.2 million last year. 

According to the NRF/Prosper survey, Black Friday continued as the most popular day for in-store shopping, with 76.2 million shoppers opting to visit bricks-and-mortar locations, up from 72.9 million in 2022.

NRF added that about 59 million consumers shopped in stores on the Saturday after Thanksgiving, down from 63.4 million last year. On par with last year, 78 percent of Saturday shoppers shopped specifically for Small Business Saturday.   

NRF also concluded that Black Friday was also the most popular day for online shopping, though Adobe disagreed, characterizing Cyber Monday as the biggest volume online day of the year. On Monday, Shopify expected online sales of its merchants on Cyber Monday to surpass the $4.1 billion generated on Black Friday.

According to the NRF, 90.6 million U.S. consumers shopped online on Black Friday, up from 87.2 million in 2022. By comparison, about 73 million consumers shopped online on Cyber Monday, down slightly from 77 million last year.  

The top destinations for Thanksgiving weekend shoppers were online (44 percent), grocery stores and supermarkets (42 percent), department stores (40 percent), clothing and accessories stores (36 percent) and electronics stores (29 percent).

Consumers, the NRF indicated, spent $321.41 on average through the five-day period consistent with $325.44 last year. About $226.55, or 70 percent, was spent specifically on gifts. The top gifts purchased were clothing and accessories, which were bought by 49 percent of those surveyed, followed by toys at 31 percent, then gift cards, 25 percent; books, video games and other media, 23 percent, and personal care or beauty items 23 percent.

“Over the course of the weekend, consumers were able to find great deals on holiday gifts and other items they wanted,” said Prosper executive vice president of strategy Phil Rist. “This year is the first time personal care and beauty items were among the top five most popular gifts purchased over Thanksgiving weekend, with nearly one-quarter of shoppers purchasing these items.”

In other NRF findings, consumers reported that on average, 55 percent of their Thanksgiving weekend purchases were specifically driven by sales and promotions, up from 52 percent in 2022. Another 31 percent said a limited-time sale or promotion convinced them to make a purchase they were hesitant about, up from 29 percent last year.  

Similar to last year, as of Thanksgiving weekend, 85 percent of consumers had started holiday shopping and were about halfway, or 48 percent, done so far.

NRF, which defines the holiday season as Nov. 1 through Dec. 31, has forecast that holiday spending is expected to grow between 3 and 4 percent, totaling $957.3 billion to $966.6 billion. Most other forecasters are also in that range or close to it. The NRF/Prosper survey of 3,498 adult consumers was conducted Nov. 22 to 26 and has a margin of error of plus or minus 1.7 percentage points.

Shay said the Thanksgiving to Cyber Monday outcome bodes well for Christmas, though other retail executives have told WWD that the results of the five-day stretch don’t necessarily reflect what’s ahead. Retailers are expecting a deep lull in gift shopping for the rest of this week right until about 10 days before Christmas and with discounting a big factor, they remain uncertain about the ultimate outcome.

According to Adobe, on Cyber Monday apparel was a clear winner, with online sales growing 189 percent compared to an average day in October 2023. Other categories with strong demand were appliances, up 166 percent; toys, up 140 percent, as well as furniture, up 129 percent; electronics, up 103 percent; jewelry, up 99 percent, and sporting goods, up 95 percent.

Top sellers on Cyber Monday were toys such as Hot Wheels, Mario Kart, Disney Pixar Cars, Disney Junior Minnie Mouse and playsets, and Legos. Top-selling gaming consoles included Xbox Series X, PlayStation 5 and Nintendo Switch. Top games included Spiderman 2, Call of Duty: Modern Warfare III, NBA 2K24, and Super Mario Bros. Wonder.

Other top sellers were skin care gift sets, small kitchen appliances, TVs, smartwatches, activity trackers and Bluetooth headphones, Adobe reported.

Adobe also said that on Cyber Monday, “buy now pay later” usage hit an all-time high, contributing $940 million in online spend, up a “staggering” 42.5 percent year-over-year.

“BNPL accounted for about $390 million in online shopping on Thanksgiving, up from 7.5 percent a year ago,” Mazumder observed. “Additionally, about 80 percent of all online orders on Black Friday used standard shipping, suggesting consumers may be choosing cheaper fulfillment options due to inflation. While many retailers may see improved top-line performance based on solid consumer demand, the real winners will be those who can protect the bottom line through tight inventory management and a streamlined supply chain.”

Adobe also indicated that Cyber Week — Thanksgiving to Cyber Monday — brought in $38 billion overall, up 7.8 percent year-over-year. It was bolstered by record spending online during Thanksgiving ($5.6 billion, up 5.5 percent), Black Friday ($9.8 billion, up 7.5 percent) and over the weekend ($10.3 billion), up 7.7 percent.

Season-to-date — Nov. 1 to Nov. 27 — U.S. consumers have spent $109.3 billion online, up 7.3 percent. Adobe expects the full holiday season, defined as Nov. 1 to Dec. 31, will hit $221.8 billion, growing 4.8 percent.

On Cyber Monday, discounts were strong across the majority of categories tracked by Adobe with computers at 24 percent compared to 20 percent last year; televisions at 19 percent versus 17 percent last year, and apparel at 23 percent versus 21 percent last year. Discounts for toys, however, came in below last year’s levels at 27 percent versus 34 percent a year ago.

While there’s been several seasons of inflation, Adobe reported consumer spending figures this season have also been driven by net-new demand, not simply higher prices. The Adobe Digital Price Index, which tracks online prices across 18 product categories, shows that e-commerce prices have fallen for over a year now and were down 6 percent year-over-year as of last October, though consumers continue to feel the pinch of high prices. Adobe analyzes more than 1 trillion visits to U.S. retail sites, 100 million stock keeping units and 18 product categories.

Shopify, based on feedback from its merchants for the Black Friday to Cyber Monday period, indicated the following results: 

  • Top-selling countries: U.S., U.K., Australia, Canada and Germany.
  • Top-selling cities: Los Angeles, New York and London.
  • Average cart price: $108.12 globally, or $107.53 on a constant currency basis.
  • Top five product categories by orders: apparel and accessories, health and beauty, home and garden; food and beverage, arts and entertainment.
  • Desktop versus mobile sales: 74 percent to 26 percent, respectively.

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