Cyber Monday and Black Friday Set E-Commerce Records

The 2020 Holiday season has seen a significant shift in key shopping dates and consumer buying patterns. With Amazon Prime Day on October 13th-14th marking the unofficial start to the holiday shopping season, holiday sales shifted earlier this year. Cyber Monday and Black Friday set records and became the #1 and #2 biggest eCommerce dates in history, respectively. 

Black Friday saw heightened competition this year. Because of the extended shopping season, consumers now expect deals everywhere and all the time, making it hard for brands to stand out, and in some cases create a race to the bottom. This year, the average Black Friday discount remained consistent YoY at 26% off. SMS discount notifications increased 156% YoY, while push notifications increased 142%. Finally, email alerts only saw a 13% increase. The top product category globally on Black Friday was apparel & accessories, followed by health & beauty, and then home & garden. These product categories mirror shifting consumer priorities during the pandemic. 

Cyber Monday Record-Breaking Numbers

While Cyber Monday fell short of predictions due to the extended shopping season, Black Friday and Cyber Monday had record-breaking numbers. Cyber Monday’s digital sales pushed the total season-to-date spending from Nov. 1 – Nov. 30 over the $100-billion mark, according to Adobe. That holiday retail milestone was reached nine days faster than last year. So far, shoppers have spent $106.5 billion online, up 27.7% YoY.

Cyber Monday again won out with the deepest promotions of any day during Cyber Week (the Tuesday before Thanksgiving through the Monday after the holiday), but just barely. The average discount rate in the U.S. for the day was 29%, according to Salesforce data, marking a modest ramp up from a 25% average on Tuesday, Nov. 24; a 27% average on Wednesday, Nov. 25; and 28% on Thanksgiving, Nov. 26. Mobile sales also increased this season, with 37% of Cyber Monday sales placed on mobile devices, according to Adobe. Curbside pickup sales on Cyber Monday also grew 30% year over year, Adobe reports. 

Shipping Estimates Create a Challenge

Finally, shipping times have prompted additional challenges for online shoppers. Dec 10 – 15 is the new, earlier cutoff date for major shipping carriers to accept delivery requests in 2020. Major shipping carriers (FedEx, UPS) sold major retailers pre-purchased capacity (at a higher premium with no option to increase capacity). Amazon and Walmart are the only retailers with owned and operated delivery services, including a network of local fulfillment centers.

While the focus is currently on the holiday shopping season, Facebook projects December 23rd to January 10th as key dates for a “Q5.” During this time, there is less competition as big brands have left the auction and shipping deadlines have passed, so CPMs should fall. Purchase intent is high and consumers want to spend gift cards and cash gifts that they received during the holidays. Brands should expect the holiday shopping season to continue through Q5.

With the shifting shopping behaviors of the 2020 season, brands must stay current with their holiday marketing strategies.

To learn more about developing successful marketing strategies going forward to 2021, contact the Direct Agents team at [email protected].