Spending, up 21.5% compared with last year, was 9.6% higher than forecast, according to Adobe’s Digital Index.

Online shoppers jumped on this holiday’s Free Shipping Day promotion on Dec. 18, spending 21.5% more year over year for a total of $1.48 billion, outpacing by 9.6% Adobe’s Digital Index spending forecast of $1.35 billion, Adobe says.

The growth shows many consumers are waiting to do last-minute shopping and feel confident about online orders arriving before Christmas, says Tyler White, senior manager at Adobe Digital Index.“It’s in line with our expectation that more than $1 billion would be spent each day from the first of December to the 21st,” he says.

More than 1,000 merchants participated in Free Shipping Day, a quadrupling of retailers from the 250 who joined the first such event in 2008, and about the same number as 2014, says Luke Knowles, co-owner of Internet marketing firm Kinoli Inc. and the creator of the Free Shipping Day promotion.

In a separate report, comScore Inc. says online desktop spending for Free Shipping Day was  $847 million, up 8% from the same Friday a year ago but down 9% from Free Shipping Day in 2014, which took place on a Thursday due to Christmas falling on a Thursday last year. ComScore did not provide an estimate of sales including mobile devices.

“In 2014, the last day to guarantee your gifts arrived in time was a Thursday, so that Thursday cannibalizes a large portion of what would have been Friday sales,” says Adam Lella, senior marketing insights analyst at comScore. “This year, people could wait until Friday to make their purchases, so the sales get diluted over more days.”


Knowles says he believes part of the decline in desktop spending was because consumers are increasingly using their smartphones to take advantage of holiday deals.

“This was the best Free Shipping Day we’ve seen,” Knowles says. “Really large brands, such as Wal-Mart and Target, were able to participate for the first time this year (in the website listing), and those are the kinds of brands shoppers are looking for.”

The biggest online spending day this holiday season has been Cyber Monday, Nov. 30. The Monday after Thanksgiving was the largest U.S. online sales day in history with $3.07 billion in sales, followed by Black Friday, the day after Thanksgiving, at $2.74 billion spent online, according to the Adobe Digital Index, which bases its estimates on the sales of Adobe’s online retailer clients.