Mobile made its presence known—with authority—this holiday season, accounting for an estimated 18% of more than $69 billion in e-commerce sales, according to web measurement firm comScore Inc. data released Friday.
Overall, comScore estimates online retail sales grew 13% during November and December of 2015 versus the same months in 2014. That’s substantially more than the 3.3% year-over-year growth in total retail sales during the holiday season, according to payment processor First Data. But the data from both comScore and First Data suggest that consumers turned a bit more to bricks-and-mortar stores in the last week or so before Christmas than they had earlier in the season.
Sales on mobile devices (smartphones and tablets) hit $12.65 billion, or a “staggering” 58.5% increase from $7.98 billion in mobile sales during the 2014 holiday season, according to comScore’s preliminary estimates.
E-commerce on desktops accounted for $56.43 billion in online sales, up 5.9% from $53.31 billion in 2014, according to comScore. Desktop numbers were not listed as estimates.
Combined mobile and desktop bring holiday e-commerce sales to an estimated $69.08 billion, about 13% above the $61.29 billion spent online a year ago. ComScore projections in November called for a 14% increase to $70 billion in online sales.
“If there is an underlying takeaway from this holiday season, I think it will be remembered as the one where mobile ate brick-and-mortar,” comScore chairman emeritus Gian Fulgoni says. “Mobile became an essential shopping channel nearly doubling desktop in total retail traffic, while seeing growth rates approaching 60% year over year at the same time that offline retail experienced softness throughout the season. I believe that we’ve seen a paradigm shift in 2016 where the future of retail will increasingly be defined by consumers’ behavior on mobile.”
Early in the season, data indicated that desktop e-commerce would likely underperform comScore’s projected 9% increase for that channel, while mobile looked to exceed the expected 47% increase, but for most of the holiday season retailers seemed to be on track to hit the 14% overall e-commerce growth estimate, according to comScore.
“Where the season ultimately fell short was in the last two weeks of the year, and in particular the week before Christmas,” Fulgoni says. “We had anticipated heavy desktop spending through Free Shipping Day on Dec. 18 that unfortunately did not materialize, and spending began to soften more than expected by the Wednesday of that week.”
First Data finds that online sales accounted for 20.2% of retail sales during the holiday period of Oct. 31-Jan. 4. First Data, which reviewed more than 139,000 e-commerce sites and 1.3 million merchant locations in the U.S. that had sales activity with First Data for at least 13 months.
Average ticket size or order value declined 0.2% compared with a 0.1% increase in 2014, but the number of transactions increased 3.4% in 2105 compared with a 3.2% increase a year ago. But e-commerce ticket size for the 2015 holiday season exceed the average ticket size at stores at $125.72 for online orders versus $69.64 for bricks-and-mortar locations, First Data says.
Online shopping represented 20.6% of retail sales through Dec. 14, but ended the season at 20.2%, an indication that in the run-up to Christmas some consumers abandoned online shopping for physical stores.
Nonetheless, e-commerce during the 2015 holiday season gained a bigger share of total spend compared to 2014 in each of the four periods First Data tracks. The breakdowns are as follows:
- Full season (Oct. 31-Jan.4): 20.2% in 2015, up from 18.0% in the same period of 2014.
- Midseason (Oct. 31-Dec. 14): 20.6%, up from 16.3%.
- Thanksgiving weekend (Nov. 26-Nov. 30): 18.3%, up from 15.7%.
- Pre-Thanksgiving (Nov. 5-25): 19.5%, up 17.1%.