2019 holiday online shopping stats, trends and predictions

’Tis The Season: Adobe’s 7 Holiday Online Shopping Predictions

Bing Crosby’s “I'll Be Home for Christmas” song may take on renewed meaning this holiday season, as more consumers opt to shop online both in lieu of and in addition to going to the store, according to Adobe’s sixth annual “Holiday Predictions” report.

2019 Holiday Shopping Trends
2019 Holiday Shopping Trends
2019 Holiday Shopping Trends

We're analyzing more than a trillion visits to over 4,500 retail sites to arm you with the most comprehensive and accurate real-time insights for retail and e-commerce. Check out our holiday 2019 predictions, actuals, and analysis.

Adobe Digital Insights (ADI) used Adobe Analytics to analyze trillions of visits to U.S. retail sites and 55 million unique products to pinpoint end-of-year online shopping trends. Additionally, a companion survey of more than 1,000 U.S. consumers sheds light on shopper expectations. The main finding: Online shopping will continue to grow this year, with mobile in particular, ensuring a holly, jolly holiday season.

Here are the 2019 holiday predictions.

1. Online Shopping Will Hit New Highs​

Unsurprisingly, many consumers will shop online this holiday season. ADI forecasts $143.7 billion will be spent online during the holiday season this year. That means that $1 of every $5 spent in November through December will be spent online. This represents a 14.1% growth year over year (YoY), which is slightly down from 2018's 16.5% YoY growth.

Of note, e-commerce growth is still outpacing overall retail growth (14.1% vs. 4%). ADI also predicts this will be the first year that every day in November and December will surpass $1 billion in online sales​.

Almost 20%—$29 billion—of the total spend for the two-month period is forecasted to come from Cyber Week, which are the five days starting Thanksgiving and ending Cyber Monday. As always, Cyber Monday is predicted to be the biggest day for online shopping, with ADI forecasting spend to hit $9.4 billion, up 18.9% YoY. Black Friday online spending is expected to reach $7.5 billion, up 20.3% YoY, and on Thanksgiving Day, Americans are predicted to spend $4.4 billion online, up 19.5% YoY.

“We predict that the major online shopping days—Thanksgiving, Black Friday, and Cyber Monday—will see unprecedented growth,” said Jason Woosley, VP of commerce, product, and platform at Adobe. “Our advice for retailers is to focus on the major online shopping days in the holiday period by offering shoppers personalized, seamless, and unforgettable online deals and experiences.”

Because Holiday 2019 is a shorter shopping season than in years past—there are just 22 days between Cyber Monday (Dec. 2) and Christmas, which is six days fewer than in 2018—ADI predicts retailers will likely start their sales earlier than usual. The “golden hours” of retail, ADI predicts, will take place 7 p.m. to 11 p.m. Pacific Time on Cyber Monday, as fear of missing out (FOMO) sets in and people start to find last-minute deals. In fact, those four hours will make up 30% of Cyber Monday’s revenue, with conversion nearly doubling in that time period as well, according to ADI.

2. Americans Will Spend More (Not Just Browse More) Via Their Mobile Phones

Retailers have long been lamenting the mobile traffic to revenue gap. People browse on their phones, but they tend to make purchases via desktop. That’s all about to change, as nearly 36% of e-commerce sales this holiday season will be made from a smartphone (a 20% increase in share YoY). Smartphones will also account for 57% of visits to retail sites, up 11% YoY.

 

Holiday Ecommerce Spend Growth By Device

 

ADI predicts smartphones will account for 47% of overall sales growth this holiday season, with Americans spending $14 billion more this year on their phones compared with 2018. To put that into perspective, $3 out of every $4 added to this holiday’s online spending growth will come from smartphones.

As part of that growth, Christmas Day will be the first time in history that consumers will purchase more from their mobile devices than from their desktops, ADI predicts.

“Mobile is the big opportunity for retailers this year, as it’s the real hero when it comes to growth in spend,” Woosley told CMO by Adobe. “Retailers need to be optimizing for mobile, as well as taking advantage of the contextual information that shoppers share when they are browsing from their devices. Things like location and even understanding the types of products that consumers are more likely to buy on mobile can be a guiding light to the types of deals and offers that consumers want, helping to turn a shopper into a buyer.”

As for what they'll be buying, ADI predicts consumers will be making smaller purchases via mobile compared with desktop. Research-intensive purchases (think: furniture, electronics, and appliances) are more likely to happen on desktop, according to ADI, while baby and toddler products, toys, and flowers are more likely to be purchased on mobile. 

 

Share Of Smartphone-Led Purchases By Product Category

 

3. The Best Days To Buy Depend On What Consumers Are Buying

For consumers looking to buy appliances, sporting goods, TVs, furniture and bedding, tools and home improvement items, or electronics, the best times to buy are as follows:

 

The best day to do your online holiday shopping.

 

4. BOPIS Will Be A Great Tool For Conversion   

BOPIS—buy online, pickup in-store—will experience strong growth this holiday season, with 39% more BOPIS orders placed this year than last year, ADI predicts. In fact, 37% of consumers surveyed said they are planning to use BOPIS this season.

Customers are 19% more likely to use BOPIS in the week leading up to Christmas, which could end up boosting revenue for retailers that offer the service by up to 10%. According to ADI, BOPIS share of revenue will double in the week leading up to Christmas.

“BOPIS is a way to get people into the store, which represents a great opportunity for retailers to think of interesting and personalized ways of upselling to grow basket size,” Woosley said. “Think about it: If you have someone coming in to pick up an iPhone case, you could offer them a deal for a charger or another accessory, like ear buds.”

In parallel, consumers said they expect to spend more when they come in-store to pick up their items, ADI found. In fact, a whopping 82% of BOPIS patrons said they will likely shop for additional items while picking up their online orders​.

5. E-Commerce Giants Will Continue To Tower Over SMBs 

The biggest e-commerce players will see their revenue increase by about 65% during the November and December holiday shopping period, according to ADI, while smaller retailers will only see about a 35% boost in online revenue.

Even on Small Business Saturday, small retailers will fall behind the big guys, ADI predicts. The reason: E-commerce giants have the means to pay for big advertising, while smaller retailers are more reliant on organic means of driving traffic, such as social media and search. That explains why e-commerce giants are 32% more likely to convert a visitor this holiday season, compared with 23% for smaller retailers. ​E-commerce giants also have a 19% higher share in traffic coming from email.

 

Holiday Traffic Share By Marketing Channel

 

“For smaller and midsize businesses, the issue is really about budget,” Woosley said. “With the money they have to devote to paid media, their best strategy is to focus on their messaging—what makes their brand special and how they stand out against the e-commerce giants."

According to the survey, the top three reasons consumers said they choose to shop with a smaller retailer are quality of the products they sell (53%), unique product offerings (48%), and the experience (46%). Calling these points out via media strategy will be key for the small to midsize retailers this holiday season.

6. The Most Popular Toys Of The Season

Kids, perhaps, are the biggest winners of all during the holidays. Those on Santa's 2019 “nice list are especially hoping for Owleez, Blume Dolls, Candy Locks, LoL Surprise OMG Swag, Fashion Doll, and Kindi Kids, according to ADI. (Grab 'em when you see 'em because chances are they will sell out fast.)

In the gaming category, the Nintendo Switch Lite​ and SEGA Genesis Mini​ will be the must-have consoles, with games including “Pokémon Shield/Sword,” “Shenmue 3​,” “Jedi Fallen Order​,” “Death Stranding​,” and “COD: Modern Warfare"​ flying off online shelves.

7. The Majority Of E-Commerce Spend Will Come From High-Income Markets

High-income markets will drive 40% more visits, relative to their population, to e-commerce websites this holiday season, ADI predicts. Online spend growth is more likely to come from these markets, as well. The reason? Online shopping is expanding among households with median household income (HHI) of $100,000, while it is contracting in markets where households have a median HHI of $33,000.

But lower-income markets still represent a big opportunity, especially during the deal-driven Cyber Week. That's when average order value for low-income markets ($163) is forecast to rise above high-income markets ($157), ADI found.

According to ADI, more than 75% of e-commerce spend during the holidays has traditionally been on personal items. In low-income markets, holiday spend shifts toward media and entertainment, while high-income markets shift spending toward discretionary items, including apparel and accessories.

“Everyone benefits from holiday weekend deals, regardless of income​,” Woosley said. “Generally speaking, retailers that personalize deals and offers to consumers based on preference, demographic data such as income, and more, are the ones that stand to benefit this holiday season. There are just too many choices for consumers out there in terms of where to shop. Personalization can help you stand out.”

View the full report below, or click here to view it on SlideShare. Online spending also is being tracked in real time here.

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