Run the Numbers: Here’s How Cyber Monday, Black Friday and Thanksgiving Online Sales Stacked Up

Run the Numbers unpacks the data that’s driving top retail trends in the industry.

The holiday shopping season is off to a solid start, with the e-commerce channel recording yet another year of strong consumer spending.

According to Salesforce, global online sales saw a 15% gain to $768 billion during the most recent holiday weekend as retailers pulled out all the stops to accommodate a later Thanksgiving and shortened holiday selling period.

Although Cyber Monday is arguably recognized as a bigger day for e-commerce sales than Black Friday, the software firm named the latter the biggest digital shopping day for the third year in a row — with online sales on that day surging 24% to $40 billion, compared to Cyber Monday’s growth of 13% to $30 billion. Thanksgiving Day, on the other hand, netted an e-commerce sales hike of 24% to $24 billion.

In its holiday insights report, Salesforce analyzed data from more than half a billion shoppers around the world. It reported that the average discount rate retailers offered was 23% on Nov. 25 — three days before Thanksgiving — and the rate climbed steadily throughout the week, ending with a 30% average discount on Cyber Monday.

Mobile devices drove most of the online shopping over the holiday shopping weekend, accounting for 73% of all digital activity and 55% of all orders across what Salesforce dubbed “Cyber Week,” which spans from Thanksgiving Day to Cyber Monday. Additionally, purchases made through social media platforms hit an all-time high, spiking 41% since last year.

Salesforce also noted that some businesses utilized innovative marketing strategies to lure in online shoppers, including providing product recommendations powered by artificial intelligence. People who purchased items from AI-powered recommendations bought 12% more units per transaction across Thanksgiving and Black Friday, compared to peers who did not buy products with these recommendations, Salesforce found.

“With a shorter holiday season, the pressure was on brands and retailers this Cyber Week,” said Rob Garf, VP of strategy and insights for retail and consumer goods. “Driven by savvy shoppers looking for convenience, personalization and speed before the holiday shopping window closes, winners broke down the friction between inspiration and purchase with artificial intelligence, click-and-collect and improved mobile usability.”

Looking ahead, Salesforce predicts that e-tailers offering in-store pickup will see big gains late in the season as shoppers scramble to complete last-minute purchases. According to the report, these businesses will see 48% more active digital shoppers and collect 28% more digital revenue share in the last five days leading up to Christmas.

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