Web sales were up 16.8% Thanksgiving afternoon compared with last year, following an even stronger sales jump Wednesday, Adobe says. Smartphones represent a record 46% of traffic to retail sites.

Online retail sales were up 16.8% Thanksgiving afternoon over the same time last year, Adobe Inc reports, maintaining a trend of holiday e-commerce sales soaring in November. Record numbers of consumers were shopping this morning on their smartphones.

As of 5 p.m. Eastern time, consumers had spent $$1.52 billion online. The 16.8% year-over-year sales increase on Thanksgiving afternoon was a bit below the 17.9% growth in online retail sales from Nov. 1 to Nov. 22 compared to the comparable period last year, Adobe says.

Average ticket for today’s orders was $132, 3.2% higher than the pre-Thanksgiving average. Conversion rate also was up across all devices.

A record 46.0% of traffic to retail sites was coming from smartphones today, up 15.2% from Thanksgiving Day last year.

“Unsurprisingly, mobile shopping is becoming the norm for shopping this holiday season,” says Mickey Mericle, vice president, marketing and insights, at Adobe. “With many consumers on the road, or with family, we’re seeing record traffic numbers to retail sites from the smartphone, as well revenue.”  


The growth in smartphone traffic led to traffic decreases for PCs and tablets. Desktops accounted for 44.0% of traffic this morning, down 11.0% year over year, and tablets 10.0%, down 5.7%. Smartphones also accounted for 30.3% of online sales early day, an increase of 22.1% YoY), with desktop at 57.2%, down 7.3% and tablets at 12.5%, down 7.0%.

Adobe also reported:

  • Online sales yesterday totaled $1.82 billion, which was 17.7% higher than the day before Thanksgiving last year and 6.4% higher than Adobe’s predicted sales of $1.71 billion. It continued a streak of every day in November exceeding $1 billion in online retail sales.
  • Conversion rates were up across all types of devices Wednesday, according to Adobe. The conversion rate on tablets was 4.2%, up 8% year over year; smartphones 2.3%, up 12.2%, and desktops 4.5%, up 19.5%.
  • Average discounts today of 11.2% on computers versus Oct. 1 prices, 15.1% on televisions and 11.4% on toys.

Web-only retailers are optimistic as they head into the holiday period. Raphi Mahgereft, founder and CEO of jewelry e-retailer Allurez, No. 967 in the Internet Retailer Top 1000, says sales are up 20% in November. “We are expecting the trend to continue for the rest of the month and for December,” he says. “This holiday season for us is going to be a record.”

Jeffrey Grannis, director of digital at Juice Beauty, also says sales are up about 20% this holiday season, in part because the web-only retailer of organic cosmetics began in late October offering “more compelling holiday giftsets” compared to last year. But, Grannis adds, “We really see this holiday shopping weekend as our true indicator of success.”


Adobe projects consumers will spend $19.7 billion at retailer websites during the five-day period from today through Monday, also known as Cyber Monday because of its history of being a day consumers take advantage of online holiday deals. That would be an increase of 15.9% over the $17.0 online shoppers spent during the same period last year, Adobe says.

Where they are shopping

An online survey for Internet Retailer by market research firm Toluna found about a third of consumers are planning to shop for holiday gifts today. Of those planning to shop today, 14.6% say they plan to shop only online, 39.9% both online and in stores and 45.5% only in stores.


Among those planning to shop online over the holiday weekend, 89% say they plan to shop on Amazon.com, followed by Walmart.com at 43%, eBay.com 37%, BestBuy.com 36%, Target.com 33%, JCPenney.com 25%, Macys.com 24%, Overstock.com 18% and Etsy.com and Kohls.com both 17.5%.

Amazon is No. 1 in the in the Internet Retailer Top 1000 ranking of North America’s leading online retailers, Wal-Mart Stores Inc. No. 3, Macy’s Inc. No. 6, Best Buy Co Inc. No. 10, Kohl’s Corp. is No. 18, Target Corp. No. 20, Etsy Inc. No. 22, Overstock.com Inc. No. 30 and J.C. Penny Co. Inc. No. 33.

Hitwise says Amazon has accounted for about 16% of traffic to the leading retail sites it tracks and eBay 6%, but that other retailers have been gaining traffic share in the period before Thanksgiving. Among those gaining ground are Walmart.com, BestBuy.com, Target.com and Kohls.com, says Rochelle Bailis, global director of content.

Further evidence of a strong online season came from Weblinc Corp., provider of the Workarea e-commerce platform. Total sales for Workarea clients were up 12% from Nov. 1-22, with mobile sales up 41% and the mobile conversion rate up 41%.


“As mobile commerce matures and mobile responsive sites get better, customers get increasingly comfortable with checking out through their phones,” says Linda Bustos, director of merchant strategy at Workarea. “When mobile shoppers experience less friction, they’re less likely to hold off on payment until they switch to desktop or visit a store.”

Email marketing trends

Another trend leading up to Thanksgiving has been retailers sending more targeted email that is resulting in more of their messages getting into consumers’ inboxes and being read, says John Landsman, director of strategy and analytics at eDataSource, which tracks retailers’ email campaigns and results. Amazon by far leads the way with 98% of its emails evading spam filters to arrive in consumers’ inboxes in the 10 days before Thanksgiving, with 69% being read at least 90% of the time, versus 48% last year.

A group of 14 big retailers that includes Amazon and such retail chains as Wal-Mart, Macy’s, Kohl’s and Best Buy registered a delivery rate of 86%, up from 56% during the same 10-day period last year, with 36% of emails achieving a read rate of at least than 90% versus 22% last year.


An Internet Retailer analysis of eDataSource data for online retailers other than Amazon also shows many more emails reaching consumers’ inboxes, 47% versus 21% last year, and more achieving 90%-plus read rates, 20.2% versus 17.8%.

Landsman says this either reflects changes in the policies of consumers’ email providers—Gmail, Yahoo, AOL, Comcast and others—or that retailers are doing a better job of meeting the requirements of those companies, often referred to as Internet Service Providers, or ISPs.

“Either retailers are getting better at meeting the standards of the ISPs and getting into inboxes, or ISPs are loosening the reins a little bit.”

While retailer emails in the run-up to Thanksgiving have invariably touted discounts and coupons, Landsman says many of them are tailored to customers’ preferences. “The best of these are a combination of the deal and an offer currated to that customer based on browse, purchase, preference type of data.”


Who is winning in toys?

In the toys and games category that is critical during the holidays, a Boomerang Commerce analysis shows Amazon.com is offering by far the most products at 6 million, followed by Walmart.com at nearly 1 million. Target is next with only 16,000 SKUs.

“Amazon and Wal-Mart are duking it out in catgories like toys and electronics,” says Gary Liu, Boomerang’s vice president of marketing.

While Target lags in assortment in the toys and games category, it’s gotten aggressive in pricing this year, the Boomerang study shows. While Target was significantly higher in price in this category than big rivals during the 2015 and 2016 seasons, this year it was only 5% higher than price leader Amazon on average on popular items. By comparison, Jet.com was 8% more expensive and Wal-Mart and Toys R Us 13% higher.


Liu predicts the holiday season will get more promotional after the holiday weekend. One reason is that retailers have excess inventory that’s available from the liquidations of several retail chains over the past year, and another is that as Amazon and Wal-Mart gain online market share, as Boomerang predicts, that will prompt other retailers to step up discounting to move merchandise.

Many so-called Black Friday deals were available online before stores opened. Though Wal-Mart stores were open all day today, others were opening later. For example, J.C. Penney planned to open most stores at 2 p.m. local time, Best Buy and Toys R Us at 5 p.m. and Target at 6 p.m.

Among the retail chains all day on Thanksgiving are Neiman Marcus, Home Depot, Lowe’s and REI. For the third year in a row REI will keep its stores closed on Black Friday, as part of a policy it calls #OptOutside that encourages its employees and customers to spend time outdoors instead of shopping.