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Online Sales Up 23% YoY This Thanksgiving Holiday Weekend

This article is part of our November 2018 series about the state of retail. Click here for more.

U.S. consumers had more on their minds than turkey and pumpkin pie this Thanksgiving holiday weekend. From Nov. 22 through Nov. 26, they spent $24.2 billion shopping online—23% more than what they spent over the same five days in 2017, according Adobe Digital Insights (ADI), which analyzed aggregated and anonymized data via Adobe Analytics.

That’s great news, of course, but perhaps the bigger story is that, at $10.1 billion, mobile spend accounted for 41.7% of the overall total. That’s up a whopping 44% from last year, with smartphones accounting for 77% of those sales, at $7.8 billion (up 60% YoY). In addition, more than half (54.3%) of retail site traffic came from mobile devices (46.6% smartphones, 7.7% tablets), ADI found.

“Converting mobile traffic to sales has long been a thorn in the side of retailers, but investments in making the experience faster and easier have paid off,” said ADI director Taylor Schreiner. “As retailers invest in improving mobile experiences, consumers are clearly feeling more confident in buying on their smartphones.”

Cyber Monday took in the most online sales of the holiday weekend, with a record $7.9 billion (up 19% YoY). Shopping via mobile devices reached $2.8 billion (up 41% YoY). But the star of the show was the smartphone, which accounted for $2.2 billion in spending—up a whopping 56% from last year.

“This was an unprecedented year-over-year increase from smartphones alone,” Schreiner said. “Additionally, buy online/pick up in-store saw a record 65% increase, signaling that retailers are increasingly fulfilling consumer expectations for integrated cross-channel experiences.” 

The main drivers of online sales on Cyber Monday came from direct website traffic (25.9% share of sales, up 0.7 percent YoY), which points to the importance of building loyalty with consumers throughout the year, Schreiner said. Email was the next biggest referrer, driving 25.9% of online sales (up 2% YoY), followed by paid search at 21.6% of sales (up 6.2% YoY). Similar to past years, social media continued to have minimal impact on online sales, at a 1.3% share.

Black Friday was the second biggest online spending day of the long weekend, bringing in $6.2 billion in online sales (up 23.6% YoY), according to ADI. Mobile accounted for 33.5% of that total. Thanksgiving online spend hit a record $3.7 billion, with mobile accounting for one-third.

Drilling down on mobile, consumers—especially iOS users—are spending more and buying bigger-ticket items on their smartphones, according to ADI’s Schreiner. Some popular big ticket items purchased online include laptops (Dell and Apple, specifically), LG TVs, and Nintendo Switch.

On Black Friday, people shopping from an iPhone were 12% more likely to purchase after reaching a website and bought 14% more than Android users. Visits on smartphones were also 5.2% shorter than last year—meaning people were deciding to buy more quickly, Schreiner said—with 7.6% more visits leading to purchases this season.

“Now we’re projecting Giving Tuesday to continue the accelerated shopping growth at 26% YoY and a total online spend of $2.9 billion,” Schreiner told CMO.com. “On the giving side, over three-quarters of shoppers are expected to give to charity, with the most popular causes being religious organizations, animal welfare, health, and humanitarian/disaster relief.”

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