Black Friday online sales numbers are in—and they grew more than 20% compared to 2017. Meanwhile, Thanksgiving posted an even higher growth rate at nearly 30%, and early Saturday online shopping numbers look strong, too.
Consumers spent $6.22 billion online on Black Friday, according to Adobe Analytics data, up 23.6% compared with $5.03 billion last year. Black Friday was also the first day to generate more than $2 billion in sales coming from smartphones alone, according to Adobe. That followed a $1 billion dollar mobile commerce day on Thanksgiving.
Shoppers also placed orders online to pick up in stores later after their annual turkey feast and nap on Thanksgiving. Buy online, pick up in store orders grew 73% from Thursday to Friday, Adobe reports. The holiday season to date (Nov. 1-Nov. 23) has generated $44.2 billion in online sales, up 19.2% for the same period a year earlier. Adobe’s data is based on an analysis of more than 1 trillion visits to retail sites over the last 12 months. Adobe Analytics measures transactions from 80 of the top 100 U.S. online retailers.
And consumers didn’t seem to tire of web shopping after Friday. For example, as of 10 a.m. Eastern Standard Time Saturday, consumers had spent $400 million online, an increase of 24.3% from a year earlier. Adobe estimates Saturday will rake in $3 billion in web sales but won’t release its official Saturday e-commerce sales figures until 10:30 Eastern Standard Time on Cyber Monday.
Is Thanksgiving the new Black Friday?
Adobe also reports that prices on Thanksgiving Day were as low as prices on Black Friday for the first time, with consumers taking advantage of those deals in record numbers, making Thanksgiving Day the fastest-growing online shopping day so far this season, growing 28% from last year. Consumers are also getting more comfortable buying more and bigger ticket items online. Average order value set a new record for Black Friday at $146, up 8.5% year over year.
As of Black Friday, the steepest discounts were on computers (discounted 17.8% on average), followed by TVs (down 18%) and toys (down 27.1%), Adobe says. Adobe predicts the best deals on Cyber Monday will be on toys.
Adobe also notes:
- Cyber Monday will break online shopping records: Cyber Monday is expected to be the largest online shopping day in history, generating a whopping $7.8 billion in sales, up 17.6% from 2017.
- Mobile shopping: Black Friday purchases made on smartphones reached $2.1 billion, up 50% from the old record of $1.4 billion set on Cyber Monday 2017. Additionally, more than one-third (33.5%) of online Black Friday sales stemmed from smartphones, compared to 29.1% on Black Friday last year.
- Shoppers head straight to e-commerce sites: Direct site traffic ranks highest for driving sales this season at 27.2% share of sales, up 0.3% from a year earlier. That’s followed by paid search at 24.0% (up 6.1%), natural search at 20.8% (down 5.5%), and email at 20.4% (up 2.6%)
“The entire holiday season continues to see vigorous growth with Cyber Monday expected to be the largest U.S. online shopping day in history,” says Taylor Schreiner, director of Adobe Digital Insights.
Which day will win for online spending?
Meanwhile, e-commerce platform provider and marketing vendor Salesforce.com predicts Black Friday—not Cyber Monday—will be the biggest online holiday shopping day. “The day after Thanksgiving saw a conversion spike of 37%, suggesting it will remain the top digital shopping day of this holiday season,” Salesforce says. Mobile devices accounted for 67% of all digital traffic on Black Friday, Salesforce says, up from 61% on the same day last year, and accounted for 49% of orders. This share is slightly lower than the 54% mobile order share on Thanksgiving Day.
Tomorrow will be a big day for retailers and bargain hunting shoppers. Cyber Monday last year posted the best deals with a 30% average discount, Salesforce says. But this could change this year as retailers are further spreading deals out throughout the week, the company notes.
Salesforce’s data is based on combined the activity of hundreds of millions of global shoppers across more than 30 countries garnered from e-retailers that use Commerce Cloud, Salesforce’s e-commerce platform. It also is based on consumer engagements and public social media conversations tracked through Salesforce’s marketing platform, Marketing Cloud, and customer service data from 200 million service cases powered by Service Cloud, the vendor’s customer service platform. Salesforce’s findings also rely on survey data from more than 6,000 consumers across six countries in Salesforce’s “Shopper-First Retailing” report with Publicis.Sapient.
E-commerce platform provider Shopify Inc., which mainly serves small-and medium-sized online retailers, says its more 600,000 merchants generated more than $573 million in total sales during Black Friday. (This includes all Shopify merchant sales including mobile, web and store sales).
Shopify merchants generated more than $870,000 in sales per minute during Black Friday and generated more than $37 million sales per hour at the peak of Black Friday. Additionally, 63% of orders at Shopify merchants stemmed from either phones or tablets, while desktop sales accounted for 37%. 2018 Black Friday gross merchandise value for Shopify merchants surpassed the total Shopify GMV of Black Friday 2017 by 2:30 p.m. Eastern Standard Time. The average order value during Black Friday was $86.37, Shopify says. Shopify says it will release more comprehensive Black Friday and Cyber Monday sales data on Nov. 26.
Some retailers had a tough time grappling with too much of a good thing. Retailers including Lowe’s Cos., (No. 21 in the Internet Retailer Top 1000) Walmart Inc., (No. 3) Lululemon Athletica Inc., (No. 90), J. Crew Group Inc. (No. 53) Kohl’s Corp. (No. 18) all dealt with glitches and malfunctioning websites.
“It really does show the importance of investing in logistics and technology,” says Marshal Cohen, an analyst at research firm NPD Group. “They have to be able to handle the online rush.”
Home-improvement store Lowe’s Cos. temporarily showed an error message on Friday afternoon, noting that “we are making some important changes and should be up and running soon.”
Lowe’s said the website’s “intermittent outages” were due to increased customer traffic.
On Friday afternoon, J. Crew’s (No. 53) homepage was down, with a full-page banner asking customers to “hang on a sec” amid higher than normal traffic. J. Crew online shoppers who managed to access the site had problems as well, and vented their frustration on social media. Complaints included frozen screens and lost carts. J. Crew sent an email to shoppers Sunday morning extending its 50% off sale through Sunday.
Lululemon Athletica said on Facebook late Thanksgiving that it was “working hard to get the dot com running smoothly again.”
“Our North American website experienced some minor disruption in service which the team quickly mitigated to restore our guest experience. We are managing closely throughout this week and into Cyber Monday,” a Lululemon spokeswoman said in an email Friday. “We sincerely apologize to any of our guests impacted by this issue.”
A spokeswoman at Kohl’s Corp. said some of its customers had “a less-than-perfect experience” shopping online, but said that didn’t stop the chain from having a record day of online traffic on Thanksgiving Day.
“We are aware of some earlier intermittent technology issues that may have interfered with some customers’ ability to check out quickly and easily. Our teams worked quickly to address and resolve,” she said in an email.
Even Walmart Inc., the world’s biggest retailer, reported issues amid higher than expected web traffic. The big-box store—which saw some of the biggest online-sales increases in the week leading up to Thanksgiving—reported sluggishness before the holidays even began.
Bloomberg contributed to this report.