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The Cyber 5 period tied for the highest year-over-year growth with the week preceding Christmas. While they both grew at a rate of 6% year over year, the Cyber 5 week also featured the highest average discount rate of the entire November-through-December holiday sales period (27%), according to Salesforce.

The Top 1000 online retailers in North America grew online sales 4.8% year over year in November and December 2023, according to a new estimate from Digital Commerce 360.

And while their online domestic sales grew in the two-month holiday sales period, international sales struggled amid a tougher European economy, said James Risley, research data manager and senior analyst at Digital Commerce 360. Moreover, the growth comes despite shoppers spending less time browsing ecommerce sites, with traffic down slightly to Top 1000 retailers.


Manufacturers saw a higher share of spending, Risley said, as online shoppers focused on higher-priced items like jewelry and consumer electronics. Mass merchants’ share of online sales remained flat, as shoppers spent more with specialized retailers and hard-to-find brands.

The Top 1000 is Digital Commerce 360’s database ranking North America’s largest online retailers based on their annual web sales.


Domestic holiday online sales grow in 2023

Overall U.S. online holiday spending grew 4.9% in the same November-through-December time frame, according to data from Adobe Analytics. That pushed holiday online sales to $221.1 billion in 2023, according to Adobe.

Mobile shopping overtook desktop online sales for the first time in 2023. 51.1% of online sales across the holiday season were made via smartphones in 2023, up from 47% in 2022, Adobe data showed. Mobile sales peaked on Christmas Day at 65%, from 61% in 2022. Consumers made purchases on final holiday deals while spending time with friends and family, Adobe said.

Meanwhile, curbside pickup dipped slightly. Consumers used it as a fulfillment method for 18.4% of online orders from retailers offering the option. That’s down from 21% in 2022, according to Adobe. Shoppers used it most ahead of Christmas Eve on Dec. 22 and Dec. 23, accounting for 36.8% of orders during that time frame.


Holiday spending by category

65% of online holiday spending in 2023 was in just five of the 18 categories Adobe tracks.

Top categories by online holiday spending:

  • Electronics ($50.8 billion)
  • Apparel ($41.5 billion)
  • Furniture ($27.3 billion)
  • Groceries ($19.1 billion)
  • Toys ($7.7 billion)

Adobe’s data is based on 1 trillion visits to U.S. retail sites, 100 million SKUs and 18 categories. 203 online retailers in the Top 1000 use Adobe Analytics for their web analytics, and 100 use it for site design and development. Top 1000 online retailers also use it for content delivery and management, as an ecommerce platform, a marketing platform, for personalization and more.

Global online holiday sales in 2023

Globally, though, online sales grew 3% to reach $1.17 trillion, according to Salesforce Inc. data. The global average discount rate across the entire holiday season was 21%. That’s the highest it has been since 2020, Salesforce said. Salesforce uses data from more than 1.5 billion global shoppers.


The online holiday shopping season started with a strong first week, according to Salesforce data, with 4% year-over-year growth. The Cyber 5 period, or the five days from Thanksgiving through Cyber Monday, tied for the highest year-over-year growth with the week preceding Christmas. While they both grew at a rate of 6% year over year, the Cyber 5 week also featured the highest average discount rate of the entire November-through-December holiday sales period (27%), according to Salesforce.

Globally, online retailers held an average of 16% off their product prices at minimum. On average, the steepest discounts were in November, Salesforce data shows.

69 online retailers in the Top 1000 use Salesforce’s ecommerce platform, and 55 use its content delivery network. Top 1000 online retailers also use Salesforce for site search, marketing automation, mobile commerce, personalization and more.


November sales lead the way

Domestically, the majority of online holiday shopping happened in November, boosted by a strong Cyber 5. U.S. consumers spent $123.5 billion online in November, a 6% year-over-year increase, according to Adobe data. $38.0 billion of that spending took place between Thanksgiving and Cyber Monday, growing 7.8% over 2022.

And during the Cyber 5, Cyber Monday pulled in the most online sales, making it the largest online sales day of the year. It brought in $12.48 billion, whereas Black Friday online sales reached $9.88 billion.

In November as a whole, nonstore sales, which encompass but aren’t limited to online sales, grew 10.6% over 2022, according to data from the U.S. Census Bureau. That’s significantly higher than total retail sales, which grew 4.4% over the same period.

Online sales in November recorded the largest growth of any category measured by The National Retail Federation (NRF) and CNBC’s Retail Monitor, growing 26.27% year over year. Retail Monitor’s data comes from credit and debit card purchases from consumer data vendor Affinity Solutions.


“November Retail Monitor data shows that consumers are embracing the holiday season and promotions being offered by retailers,” NRF president and CEO Matthew Shay said in a statement. “Value-conscious shoppers are out looking for deals as they purchase gifts for family and friends, and this data indicates that they’re finding them.”

Online retailers follow through in December

U.S. consumers kept spending to close out 2023, leading to healthy sales in December. U.S. consumers spent $98.6 billion in U.S. online sales in December. Retailer sales that continued on past Cyber Monday drove some of that December spending, Adobe said.

Nonstore sales increased 7.0% year over year in December, according to the December monthly retail sales report from the U.S. Commerce Department. Nonstore sales also grew 8.4% in Q4 2023 and 8.0% for the whole year, down from 12.8% growth in 2022.

The ecommerce addressable portion of total retail sales, excluding restaurants, fuel, and automobiles, grew 3.9% in 2023, according to Digital Commerce 360’s analysis of Commerce Department data.


“Retail sales were stronger than expected in December,” said Ted Rossman, senior industry analyst at Bankrate, in a research note. “Bars and restaurants, health and personal care stores, electronics and appliance stores and motor vehicle and parts dealers all notched double-digit year-over-year gains,” he said. Gas stations, furniture stores, department stores, and building material stores were the only notable weak spots, he added.

Online and nonstore sales increased 31.17% year over year in December, according to an NRF statement.

Comparing the months of the 2023 holiday season

Online and non-store sales increased 2.59% month over month in December, according to data from the NRF and CNBC. Total retail sales grew 3.07% year over year in December, according to the NRF’s statement citing Retail Monitor data. They also grew 0.44% over November.

That follows 4.24% year-over-year growth in November, which also grew 0.73% over October, according to Retail Monitor data that the NRF cited.


“December’s numbers combined with November’s results show retailers had a very successful two-month holiday season,” NRF’s Shay said. “Clearly, retailers got it right this holiday season, providing consumers with what they wanted, options on when and where to make their purchases and with prices customers were comfortable paying.”

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