According to reports from the National Retail Federation (NRF), Adobe and ComScore, sales surged ahead from Thanksgiving through Cyber Monday, providing a heap of optimism for the rest of the holiday selling season. Not surprisingly, online purchases again strongly led the gains and smartphones expanded as a key driver of transactions.

The NRF found that from Thanksgiving Day through Cyber Monday, more than 174 million Americans shopped in stores and online, well above the 164 million estimated shoppers from an earlier survey by the NRF and Prosper Insights & Analytics.

“All the fundamentals were in place for consumers to take advantage of incredible deals and promotions retailers had to offer,” NRF President and CEO Matthew Shay said. “From good weather across the country to low unemployment and strong consumer confidence, the climate was right, literally and figuratively, for consumers to tackle their holiday shopping lists online and in stores.”

Average spending per person over the five-day period was $335.47, with $250.78 — 75 percent — specifically going toward gifts. The biggest spenders were older Millennials (25-34 years old) at $419.52.

The survey found more people only shopping online versus only shopping in-store and the influence of mobile phones expanding.

Among the findings:

  • Omnichannel behavior: The survey found over 58 million shopped only online over the five-day period versus over 51 million that shopped only in stores. Over 64 million shopped both online or in stores. The multichannel shopper spent $82 more on average than the online-only shopper, and $49 more on average than those shoppers who only shopped in stores.
  • Mobile’s influence: Sixty-three percent of smartphone owners used their mobile devices to make holiday decisions, and 29 percent used their phones to make actual purchases.
  • Busiest Days: The most popular day for in-store shopping was Black Friday, cited by 77 million consumers, followed by Small Business Saturday with 55 million consumers. The top two days that consumers shopped online were Cyber Monday with more than 81 million and Black Friday with more than 66 million.
  • Time of Day: The survey found that 11 percent of consumers shopped before 5 p.m. on Thanksgiving Day, while another 11 percent started at 6 p.m. On Black Friday, 25 percent started at 10 a.m. or later. On Cyber Monday, 49 percent of consumers started shopping early in the morning while 41 percent started in late morning, with 75 percent using their computers at home, 43 percent using a mobile device and 13 percent shopping on computers at work.

Adobe predicted Cyber Monday is projected to hit a new record as the largest online sales day in history with $6.59 billion in sales. This marked a 16.8 percent year-over-year increase as of 10:00 p.m. EST.

The big takeaway was the growth in mobile:

  • Mobile set a new record, representing 47.4 percent of visits (39.9 percent smartphones, 7.6 percent tablets) and 33.1 percent of revenue (24.1 percent smartphones, 9.0 percent tablets).
  • Smartphone traffic specifically grew 22.2 percent year-over-year while revenue coming from smartphones ($1.59 billion) saw 39.2 percent growth, a new all-time high.
  • Mobile transactions are closing at a 12 percent higher rate compared to Cyber Monday 2016. For purchases made on smartphones, Apple iOS led with an average order value (AOV) of $123, in comparison to Google Android at $110.

“Shopping and buying on smartphones is becoming the new norm and can be attributed to continued optimizations in the retail experience on mobile devices and platforms,” said Mickey Mericle, VP, marketing and customer insights at Adobe. “Consumers are also becoming more savvy and efficient online shoppers. People increasingly know where to find the best deals and what they want to purchase, which results in less price matching behavior typically done on desktops. Millennials were likely another reason for the dramatic growth in mobile, with 75 percent expecting to shop via their smartphone.”

Other findings from Adobe around Cyber Monday:

  • Web traffic: Overall web traffic to retail sites increased 11.9 percent on Cyber Monday, with the season average at 5.7 percent.
  • Expected shopping surge in the late hours of Cyber Monday: Three hours in the evening of Cyber Monday (8-11 p.m. in each local market) are expected to bring in more online revenue than the average 24-hour day. Conversion rates will reach their peak during the last hour of Cyber Monday (11 p.m. – midnight) at four times the annual average.
  • Large and small retailers win: Large retailers (over $100 million in annual revenue) saw higher AOVs and desktop conversion rates. Small retailers (under $10 million in annual revenue) saw 30 percent higher conversion rates on smartphones than large retailers.
  • Top retail promotion drivers: Search drove the majority of online sales on Cyber Monday at 41.7 percent (paid search at 22.9 percent, organic search at 18.8 percent). Direct traffic and email drove 24.8 percent and 24.9 percent respectively. Paid search saw the strongest growth at 8.3 percent year-over-year.

Adobe found the holiday shopping season so far (November 1 to 27) drove a total of $50 billion in online revenue, a 16.8 percent increase. Adobe predicts this will be the first-ever holiday season to break $100 billion in online sales.

For Thanksgiving week (November 23 through 26), online sales totaled $13.03 billion, a 14.4 percent increase year-over-year. Thanksgiving Day spend totaled $2.87 billion, up 18.3 percent year-over-year) while Black Friday hit $5.03 billion, up 16.9 percent. Thanksgiving weekend (November 25 and 26) saw $5.12 billion in revenue. Online spend surpassed at least $1 billion every day in the lead up to Thanksgiving.

For the rest of the season, 13 days are projected to exceed $2 billion in online sales bringing the total to 18 $2 billion days this holiday season, over double the number from last year.

Adobe Analytics measures 80 percent of online transactions at 100 major U.S. retailers.

ComScore reported U.S. desktop retail e-commerce sales for Thanksgiving Day rose 22 percent while Black Friday rose 20 percent. Thanksgiving Day sales reached $1.57 billion to surpass the billion-dollar threshold for the fourth consecutive year. Black Friday (November 24) reached $2.36 billion, marking the first time it reached the $2 billion milestone from desktop sales alone.

Thanksgiving and Black Friday each saw impressive online spending totals on desktop computers while posting 20-percent growth rates, adding to the holiday season’s fast start compared to 2016,” said comScore SVP of Marketing and Insights Andrew Lipsman. “With more consumers opting to kick off their holiday shopping online on Thanksgiving, the traditional day of giving thanks has also become one of the more important online buying days of the holiday season as an increasing number of people prefer to get a head start on their buying from the comfort of their homes. Black Friday continued the online shopping frenzy, surging to an all-time high of more than $2 billion in desktop spending, and proving once again that it is now as much an online shopping holiday as a brick-and-mortar one.”

Other highlights from the holiday weekend include:

  • 115 million people visited online retail sites on Thanksgiving, 61 percent of whom only visited on their mobile devices.
  • 129 million people visited online retail sites on Black Friday, up 14 percent vs. last year, with 55 million coming via desktop and 104 million via mobile (and 30 million on both).
  • Growth in Thanksgiving Day desktop retail e-commerce sales was predominantly driven by an increase in buyers (+16 percent vs. year ago), but also modest increases in the number of dollars per transaction (+3 percent) and transactions per buyer (+2 percent).
  • Apparel & Accessories ranked as the top product category on Black Friday with more than $600 million in desktop sales, followed closely by Consumer Electronics with more than $500 million.

Given the strength seen on Thanksgiving and Black Friday, Lipsman said ComScore expects Cyber Monday sales to “easily surpass” $3 billion in desktop spending and reach $4.5 billion in overall digital sales to become the leading online spending day for the eighth consecutive year.

Photo courtesy National Retail Federation