Thanksgiving Weekend Retail Recap

Thanksgiving weekend still comprised the biggest shopping days of the year for 2015, but a closer look at this year’s data shows the tide is starting to turn. Black Friday as we know it is already dead; customers are going online to shop earlier in the season and they’re less interested in shopping in-store. Customers are not only moving toward shopping primarily online, they’re doing it on their devices; 52 percent of traffic to online shopping sites and apps was through mobile.

Here are some key takeaways from Thanksgiving shopping data this weekend:

Customers want to shop online

Retail stores saw a decline in shopping over the weekend. In-store sales on Thanksgiving Day dropped to $1.8 billion from $2 billion last year, and Black Friday data reflected the same phenomenon. Retailers have been successfully extending the holiday shopping season by pushing more promotions online, and customers responded positively this Thanksgiving to being able to shop from home. Cyber Monday sales had a new record of over $3 billion, a 16 percent increaseover last year. Customers were also starting holiday shopping earlier than last year; IBM’s Benchmark Live data revealed online sales increased the day before Thanksgiving by 35 percent from the same day last year.

Mobile dominates the holidays

As we emphasized earlier this year, 2015 is the year for marketers to refine the mobile shopping experience, or risk losing out. Visits from mobile phones comprised 52 percent of total traffic on shopping sites and apps on Thanksgiving. ChannelAdvisor reported that 37 percent of all online Thanksgiving orders were made on smartphones, up 131 percent from last year. The big difference in visits versus purchases should be an eye-opener. There is a lot of room for improvement when it comes to optimizing the shopping experience for mobile.

Black Friday is dead

eCommerce giants like Amazon have helped to kill Black Friday. Customers are looking for deals all year long online, and this year’s sales data shows that they’re not waiting around for Black Friday deals. While the combination of in-store and online sales helped keep Black Friday at the forefront of the holiday season this year, overall the holiday is quickly losing significance. Customers want to shop online, and don’t want to wait until the end of November to do so. PayPal’s data revealed that holiday shopping starts to spike starting as early as September.

It shouldn’t be news that customers prefer to shop online and on mobile, especially as Amazon and PayPal have made it easier than ever to make a purchase. But the switch in customer preference from in-store to online caught even major retailers. Neiman Marcus, Target, and Footlocker all experienced technical glitches this weekend ranging from embarrassing to devastating. As the data shows, retailers were not as prepared for the holiday season as they could have been. Whether it’s making sure items remain in-stock online, managing web traffic spikes, or refining the mobile experience, there’s still a lot of room for improvement before the end of the season.