The entire retail industry has been gearing up for the biggest, and most wonderful, time of the year: the holiday season.
Last year, the National Retail Federation reported a $691.1 billion total consumer spend during the holidays, up 5.5% increase from 2016. Online spending grew at an even faster rate, with a 11.5% year-over-year increase. If history holds, the 2018 holiday season will be another record-breaking year for shopping.
With big opportunity, comes big risk. It is critical for brands and retailers to take advantage of this surge in shopping and to meet and exceed their sales goals during the winter season.
To understand consumer behavior at the holidays and what trends might be emerging to shape the upcoming season, we partnered with Wakefield Research to survey 2,500 US adults to learn more about their holiday shopping expectations and preferences.
Alongside the survey, we analyzed holiday shopping data across our network of more than 6,000 brand and retailer websites. Based on this research, here are the six biggest holiday shopping trends impacting the retail industry during the upcoming season:
No. 1: Black Friday dominates the holiday shopping season. Despite the fact that holiday shopping and sales start earlier and earlier each year, Black Friday continues to be the biggest shopping day of the season, coming in as the most popular shopping day for nearly every product category we studied. Last year, our Network of 6,000+ brand and retailer websites saw a record-breaking $1.3 billion in sales on Black Friday, and online traffic was the highest of the season, accounting for a 203% lift in average traffic and a 116% lift in conversion. Consumers confirm the popularity of Black Friday too: more than half of shoppers surveyed named it as their primary holiday shopping day.
Tip: Black Friday falls earlier than usual this year on November 23rd. Before starting any advertising and marketing campaigns, make sure your product pages are in good shape with completed information, high-quality photos, and fresh consumer-generated content (ratings, reviews, photos, and videos from previous customers). Consumers will be doing their due diligence in the weeks leading up to Thanksgiving weekend by researching products and checking prices, so make sure the information they need to inform their purchase decisions is available.
No. 2: Thanksgiving Day is giving Cyber Monday a run for its money. For the first time, our Network saw higher purchases and revenue on Thanksgiving Day than on Cyber Monday. Thanksgiving Day brought in $1.2 billion in sales, while Cyber Monday accounted for $912 million, down noticeably from $1.3B in 2016. Furthermore, Thanksgiving was the highest day for mobile sales at $624 million and had the highest average order value, even beating out Black Friday with these numbers.
Tip: If you sell products online, make sure the shopping experience is as easy and straightforward as possible. On Thanksgiving Day, consumers are likely shopping online from home, in between time with family and friends, so they don’t want to spend a lot of time and effort making purchases. Consider serving up personalized product recommendations and integrating your social media with your ecommerce experience; both tactics make the path to purchase shorter and more direct for consumers.
No. 3: Mobile shopping will continue to set records this holiday season. Last year, mobile accounted for more than half of the online traffic to most product categories. During the five-day Thanksgiving weekend shopping spree, mobile accounted for 55% of all pageviews and 44% of all revenue. Traffic from mobile peaked on Christmas Day, with a second, smaller spike the day after, particularly in the holiday decor category.
Tip: Around big holidays like Thanksgiving and Christmas, many consumers use their phone or tablet to shop online from the comforts of their couch. In addition, many shoppers are using their phones in-store to compare prices, check item availability, and read customer reviews. To capitalize, make sure your website and marketing and advertising campaigns are optimized for mobile and that your brand is active on social media throughout major holidays.