Cyber Monday, traditionally the biggest shopping day online in the year, followed in the footsteps of Thanksgiving and Black Friday this year: big gains on 2019, but still falling short on expectations. None of the usual physical crowds as people look to enforce social distancing recommendations, and many feeling the economic strain of the health pandemic are making for a good if more muted Covid-19 holiday shopping season.
According to analytics from Adobe, “Cyber Monday” brought in $10.8 billion in online spending in the US. This was at the lower end of predicted range for online spend, which it set between $10.8 billion and $12.7 billion. Smartphones accounted for 37% of all sales, it said.
For the last several years the Monday been the biggest online shopping day of the four-day stretch starting with Thanksgiving. While the figures are lower than the more optimistic predictions, they are still 15.1% higher than last year’s $9.4 billion spent on Cyber Monday. It also helped online retailers collectively blow past the $100 billion dollar mark so far for the season, at $106.5 billion spent so far (up 27.7% on the same period in 2019), Adobe said.
Salesforce meanwhile was more optimistic: It said that digital revenues on Black Friday were $12.8 billion, with global figures coming in at $62 billion, while Thanksgiving was closer to $6.8 billion in online sales in the U.S., with the global figure around $30.4 billion.
Adobe said that the “golden hours” of retail for the day, between 7 p.m. and 11 p.m., brought in $2.7 billion in sales, accounting for 25% of the day’s whole sales total: this was also actually slightly less than it had originally thought (it predicted more shopping and it taking 29% of all sales). At its peak, people were spending $12 million per minute between 8 and 9pm Pacific time.
Meanwhile, Salesforce believes sales came in at the middle of that range at $11.8 billion. Globally, Salesforce believes the figure will be $46 billion and the total for what it refers to as “Cyber Week” starting today will be $60 billion (the sales go on, and on, and on, and on….).
The Adobe figure of around 40% of sales on smartphones has been relatively steady all week. Shopify, which typically works with smaller merchants, has put the figure closer to 70%.
“Cyber Monday continued to dominate the holiday shopping season, becoming the biggest online shopping day in US history, despite early discounts from retailers,” writes Taylor Schreiner, director of Adobe Digital Insights. “Throughout the remainder of the holiday season, we expect to see record sales continue and curbside pickup to gain even more momentum as shoppers avoid crowds and potential shipping delays.”
(Part of the disparity in the two companies’ figures is based on methodology. Adobe bases its figures on 80 of the top 100 retailers in the U.S., covering some 1 trillion transactions. Salesforce is using data gleaned from its Commerce Cloud, covering billions of engagements and millions of social media conversations, which it then combines with further analytics in its Shopping Index.)
One thing that is clear from both companies is that Cyber Monday continues to be the biggest day of them all. Why? It’s a perfect storm: The big rush of sales for the holiday season are up, but everyone is back at work, so they shop online instead of in person. Hence, big numbers on Cyber Monday.
As with the other days of the long weekend, one thing that has been impacting sales numbers is the fact that sales are starting earlier and earlier, but Adobe said that many consumers still believe that big bargains are laid on for the specific day. Some of the most popular shopping categories have included computers (marked down 30% on average), toys (20% discount), appliances (21%) and electronics (26%).
Bigger businesses continue to reap the biggest spoils in online shopping — not least because they still provide the best range of delivery, pickup and return options to consumers, which become an even bigger set of priorities as you move further away from more amenable early adopters and into the more general population and potentially less experienced online shoppers. The conversion rates for big retailers (over $1 billion in revenues annually) are typically 70% higher than for smaller businesses.
Still, small businesses have tried to spend years catching up, boosted by various startups and companies like Shopify building tools for them to “be like Amazon” in their fulfillment, delivery and other features. Adobe said that Small Business Saturday, the newest of the Thanksgiving shopping holidays, saw $4.7 billion spent, a record for the day and up 30.2% on 2019. And to underscore just how tough times are for small businesses, Adobe said that the money small businesses were bringing in online this year was a whopping 294% higher than an average day in October.