Thanksgiving weekend online sales fatten up by 25%

November 30, 2015 04:33 PM

The holiday shopping season is off to a lucrative start for online retailers.

Data from IBM shows that online sales grew 25.2% year over year during the four-day Thanksgiving weekend, traditionally the kickoff to the holiday shopping season. On Cyber Monday, as the Monday after Thanksgiving is called, IBM was projecting online sales to grow 18% compared to 2014 on what is often the busiest online shopping days of the year.

Traffic and sales on mobile devices are helping to drive that growth. As of 2:30 p.m. Central, IBM’s Watson Trend Benchmark Live report, which continuously updates data about retail website traffic and sales in the United States, was reporting that about 33% of all online sales were being completed on mobile devices, with mobile accounting for more than half of all online retail traffic and shoppers spending around $140 per order placed on their mobile devices.

That’s in line with IBM’s findings from the weekend, which showed that mobile and desktop shoppers were spending more than last year on average ($130.57 per order, a 5.5% year-over-year increase). Shoppers using tablets proved to be more lucrative than those on desktop, with orders placed on tablets outpacing desktop orders by an average of $140.70 to $138.30, while customers shopping on smartphones lagged behind with an average order value of $111.29.

Adobe Systems Inc.’s Adobe Digital Index also suggests that online shoppers are spending more than Adobe originally projected. Adobe’s data showed that shoppers spent $1.7 billion on Thanksgiving Day alone, or about $100 million more than the company had originally forecast. The bulk of all online retail traffic on Thanksgiving Day (57%) came from shoppers visiting sites from their mobile devices. Adobe had originally predicted that mobile traffic would outpace desktop traffic 51% to 49%.

Online retailers say they’re noticing a spike in both mobile visitors and mobile shoppers as well. Peter Cobb, co-founder of handbag and luggage e-retailer eBags Inc., tells Internet Retailer that mobile sales grew 68% from Friday through Sunday compared with 2014 and overall sales during that period are at an all-time high in the web-only retailer’s 17-year-existence.

The weekend spike in online sales wasn’t limited to retailers in the United States, however.

Sweden-based online conglomerate Qliro Group AB, No. 44 in the Internet Retailer 2015 Europe 500, reported record sales on the Friday after Thanksgiving, commonly known as Black Friday. Announcing its results from Black Friday, Qliro Group says it did 180 million krona ($20.6 million) in sales on Friday, which retailers in several countries have adopted as a holiday sale event. That was Oliro’s greatest single sales day ever. Outgoing CEO and president Paul Fischbein said its electronics, appliances and entertainment retail site,, experienced the greatest growth of all the company’s online retail stores.

“Our largest store, CDON, impressed and reports more than 130,000 orders and a sales increase of over 80%,” Fischbein said. “We truly exceeded our own expectations, and sales within the Group almost doubled compared to Black Friday last year.”

Early reports suggest that online sales momentum generated over the weekend has carried over into Cyber Monday. Through 10 a.m. Eastern time on Monday, Adobe was reporting online sales for the day of $490 million, up 14% from the same day last year, with mobile accounting for 53% of traffic to online retail sites and 32% of sales.

“All in all, we are on track to hit a record $3 billion in sales, crowning what’s been a banner year for online sales,” said Tamara Gaffney, principal analyst, Adobe Sales Index.

Marketing platform vendor Custora, which monitors more than 200 U.S. web retailers, released data on Monday afternoon showing that online sales revenue is up 15.8% on Cyber Monday, with the number of orders growing at a 16.1% year-over-year rate.

As of noon Eastern on Monday, ChannelAdvisor clients were reporting same-store sales growth of 13.3% over last year, with retailers selling through Amazon reporting the greatest year-over-year gains, 22.4%, at the day’s midway point.

“This is a decrease from the trends we saw on Thanksgiving and Black Friday,” says executive chairman Scot Wingo. “It’s important to note that Cyber Monday historically has built through the day, and we are definitely seeing that behavior so far today, so things could accelerate from here.”

Through Monday morning, Cobb says he projects “double-digit growth” for eBags compared to Cyber Monday 2014, but he declined to specify a sales figure or an exact percentage. EBags is No. 174 in the Internet Retailer 2015 Top 500 Guide.

As Cyber Monday began winding down, that didn’t mean the online deals did.

Wal-Mart Stores Inc. (No. 3) again offered its Cyber Monday Evening Edition promotion, with online deals aimed at shoppers who didn’t have time to shop during the work day. It’s a promotion aimed at better reaching a younger audience, as Wal-Mart’s data shows that one out of every three millennials doesn’t begin Cyber Monday shopping until evening.

The retail giant says more than 70% of traffic to since Thanksgiving is coming from mobile devices.




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