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Spending through ecommerce channels grew over the five days of Thanksgiving weekend 2022, according to results flowing in from across the retail landscape.
Here’s a look at the totals and trends taking shape for a highly promotional holiday season:
Cyber Monday: Ecommerce grew 8.3%
Salesforce released the following data for ecommerce spending on Cyber Monday (Nov. 28):
Online sales reached $12.2 billion in the US for Cyber Monday, an increase of 8.3% year-over-year. Globally, spending reached $46.2 billion, which was a 4.2% year-over-year increase.
Growth and price increases were relatively even at a time of elevated inflation. In the US, the average selling price of goods increased 8% year-over-year, while average prices were up 5-year-over-year globally.
Discounts stayed steep to cap off the weekend. For Cyber Monday, the average discount rate was 30% in the US, which was up 7% year-over-year. Globally, the average discount rate was 28% globally, up 6% year-over-year. Apparel and footwear were the top discounted categories.
Thanksgiving weekend overall saw gains from 2021. After Black Friday spending rose 12%, Cyber Monday trends were in line with the overall numbers for the Turkey 5. In all, spending for the five-day Thanksgiving weekend showed 9% growth in the US over 2021, coming in at $67.6 billion. Globally, spending was up a more tepid 2% to $280.8 billion, according to Salesforce
It’s significant that ecommerce spending continued to grow during the busiest holiday shopping weekend in 2022. Any gains over the records posted amid peak demand for goods and online shopping of 2021 are notable, and the forecast this year tilted more toward in-store shopping and a potential pullback due to economic uncertainty amid 40-year-high inflation. Still, the presence of that 7.7% inflation rate leaves an open question as to how much real growth these figures actually show.
Nevertheless, the data is useful in the trends it reveals for the entire holiday season. These figures indicate that people shopped consistently over a stretch of days and took advantage of the heavy discounts that were forecast to be a primary driver of spending this year.
In the elongated holiday shopping season, retailers who can reach consumers directly with offers are finding success, said Michael Scharff, CEO of Evolv AI, which allows brands to continuously optimize their digital KPIs with autonomous technology.
“This year, consumers actively shopped for gifts starting before the traditional Black Friday-Cyber Monday weekend,” Scharff said. “Customers find it irritating and loyalty-busting to have the best pricing released as ‘surprise’ last minute deals. Companies with the highest conversion rates delivered personalized offers tuned to the ‘deal hunter’ mindset starting around Veteran’s Day through Cyber Monday.”
Discounts are an important lever for brands this year, but leaders must be mindful that the shopping experience also represents an area where brands and retailers can stand out. In a crowded sea of offers, UX offers an opportunity to relate to shoppers on their own terms.
“While Cyber Monday shoppers are all about finding the best possible price, they’re far more likely to buy when presented with an intelligent digital experience that wraps added value around a great price,” Scharff said. “The most successful companies know how to leverage real-time customer intent and the enormous amount of customer data available to inform this kind of personalization and tune the shopping experience to the season and individual user.”
NRF: Shopping traffic reached records
The growth in sales came on a weekend that saw record traffic both across stores and online.
Over the five-day holiday shopping stretch, 196.7 million Americans shopped across channels, according to a survey from the National Retail Federation (NRF) and Prosper Insights & Analytics. This was above NRF’s forecast by about 30 million people, and an increase of about 17 million people over 2021, and is the highest figure since NRF began tracking the data in 2017.
NRF President Matthew Shay said the increase in traffic is a sign that consumer demand remains on the rise, even at a time when price increases are a factor in higher spending totals.
“It is consumer demand that is driving growth,” Shay said.
Here’s a look at how the data breaks down:
In-store shopping: More than 122.7 million people visited brick-and-mortar stores over the weekend. Black Friday was the most favored day, with approximately 72.9 million heading out. Additional shopping holidays also had an impact, as 77% of Saturday consumers said they were shopping specifically for Small Business Saturday.
Ecommerce: In all, 130 million people shopped online during the weekend, which proved to be an area that saw more modest 2% growth over 2021, according to NRF. About 87.2 million consumers shopped online during Black Friday, which was also the most popular online shopping day of the year. Meanwhile, 77 million people shopped online on Cyber Monday. NRF said that a record 59% of online Cyber Monday shoppers used their mobile device, which was up from 52% in 2021.
(Chart via National Retail Federation)
This year brought an “enormous resurgence” of in-store shopping, Shay said, with 17% growth in traffic to stores over 2021. It underscores how shopping is part of the holiday season in America, and people sought to get back out after two years of pandemic concerns.
“I think that reflects the enthusiasm for the weekend, for being out and resuming some of those pre-pandemic behaviors, reliving and renewing some of the family traditions and being out publicly in ways we haven’t been able to for several years,” Shay said.
(Chart via National Retail Federation)
There are also signs of consumers crossing between the two mediums, as Salesforce reported a 9% increase in buy online, pickup in store (BOPIS) orders during the Turkey 5 over the prior three weeks. Retailers with BOPIS grew revenue by 38% more than those without it, Salesforce said.
Top items purchased over the weekend, according to NRF, included clothing and accessories (which were purchased by 50% of those surveyed), toys (31%), gift cards (27%), books, video games and other media (24%), food and candy (23%) and electronics (23%).
When it comes to discounts, 90% said deals were the same or better as last year, while 86% of consumers expect to see great deals throughout the rest of the season.
"It's clear from this past weekend: This is a much more promotional environment," said Shay. “Not only did the return to the sort of pre-pandemic behaviors of being out shopping and doing things in person feel more traditional, but the promotions feel more traditional,. It feels more like the kind of holiday season we had in 2019 and previously where retailers were working hard to get consumers out by providing real deals.”
Shopify: $7.5B spend from Black Friday-Cyber Monday
Direct-to-consumer brands also saw marked growth over BFCM, as Shopify reported global increases in spend above 2021 levels.
In a final report on the weekend, Shopify said merchants that use its software worldwide collectively recorded the following results:
- $7.5 billion in sales during the Black Friday-Cyber Monday period. That’s an increase of 19% over 2021’s total of $6.3 billion.
- 52 million consumers purchased from Shopify brands, which was a 12% increase from 2021.
- Average order spend was $102.10, up from $100.70 last year.
- Mobile devices were the venue for 73% of sales.
- Top product categories were apparel & accessories, followed by health & beauty, and home & garden
“This year, Black Friday Cyber Monday showed us once again that consumers are voting with their wallets to support the independent brands they love,” said Harley Finkelstein, president of Shopify, in a statement.
BigCommerce: Black Friday GMV increases 31%
BigCommerce, an open SaaS ecommerce platform for B2B and B2C brands, said merchants that use its tools saw big increases on Black Friday. The company reported the following data:
- Gross merchandise value (GMV) increased 31%.
- Total orders increased 25%.
- Average order value increased 4.5%.
This came after GMV rose 23% on Thanksgiving, while total orders increased 22%, according to BigCommerce.
“Given the soft global economy, this year’s peak holiday sales week is more important than ever,” said BigCommerce CEO Brent Bellm, who noted that “BigCommerce merchants grew significantly faster than overall ecommerce.”
Trending in Economy
Labor disputes on the West Coast could cause further disruption heading into peak season.
When the first half of 2023 is complete, imports are expected to dip 22% below last year.
That’s according to new data from the Global Port Tracker, which is compiled monthly by the National Retail Federation and Hackett Associates.
The decline has been building over the entire year, as imports dipped in the winter. With the spring, volume started to rebound. In April, the major ports handled 1.78 million Twenty-Foot Equivalent Units. That was an increase of 9.6% from March. Still it was a decline of 21.3% year over year – reflecting the record cargo hauled in over the spike in consumer demand of 2021 and the inventory glut 2022.
In 2023, consumer spending is remaining resilient with in a strong job market, despite the collision of inflation and interest rates. The economy remains different from pre-pandemic days, but shipping volumes are beginning to once again resemble the time before COVID-19.
“Economists and shipping lines increasingly wonder why the decline in container import demand is so much at odds with continuous growth in consumer demand,” said Hackett Associates Founder Ben Hackett, in a statement. “Import container shipments have returned the pre-pandemic levels seen in 2019 and appear likely to stay there for a while.”
Retailers and logistics professionals alike are looking to the second half of the year for a potential upswing. Peak shipping season occurs in the summer, which is in preparation for peak shopping season over the holidays.
Yet disruption could occur on the West Coast if labor issues can’t be settled. This week, ports from Los Angeles to Seattle reported closures and slowdowns as ongoing union disputes boil over, CNBC reported. NRF called on the Biden administration to intervene.
“Cargo volume is lower than last year but retailers are entering the busiest shipping season of the year bringing in holiday merchandise. The last thing retailers and other shippers need is ongoing disruption at the ports,” aid NRF Vice President for Supply Chain and Customs Policy Jonathan Gold said. “If labor and management can’t reach agreement and operate smoothly and efficiently, retailers will have no choice but to continue to take their cargo to East Coast and Gulf Coast gateways. We continue to urge the administration to step in and help the parties reach an agreement and end the disruptions so operations can return to normal. We’ve had enough unavoidable supply chain issues the past two years. This is not the time for one that can be avoided.”