A record-breaking Cyber Week 2020: Online shopping steals the show

By Giselle Abramovich

Posted on 12-01-2020

Cyber Week, the five-day period between Thanksgiving and Cyber Monday, has broken all sorts of e-commerce records this year with many U.S. consumers choosing to shop online to avoid crowds in stores amid COVID-19 concerns.

Data from Adobe, which uses Adobe Analytics to analyze one trillion visits and 100 million SKUs from 80 of the 100 largest retailers in the U.S., found that consumers spent a whopping $34.4 billion during this year’s Cyber Week, which represents a 20.7 percent year-over-year (YoY) increase. Unsurprisingly, Thanksgiving, Black Friday and Cyber Monday represented the bulk of total spend over the five-day period.

Want to understand how much and when consumers are spending, as well as what they are buying this holiday season? We analyzed billions of data points across Adobe Experience Cloud to bring you the most comprehensive and accurate insights for online retail and e-commerce.

View the top consumer spending trends

According to the analysis, a record $10.8 billion was spent online by the end of Cyber Monday, an increase of 15.1 percent YoY, making it the largest online shopping day in U.S. history and beating last year’s $9.4 billion record. Cyber Monday put the total season-to-date spending (November through Cyber Monday) over the $100 billion threshold, at $106.5 billion (27.7 percent YoY growth), surpassing this milestone nine days faster than last year. What’s more is smartphones accounted for 41.1 percent of revenue during the five-day period, up 7.4 percent year over year.

Also of note: Social media is driving more online sales. Over the Thanksgiving weekend, for example, social media drove one out of 10 visits to retail websites, a 17 percent YoY increase. The growth here is what is important to watch, as social media only drove 3 percent of online revenue. Organic search was the biggest winner during the period in increasing revenue share, at 11 percent growth YoY. Paid search continues to dominate both revenue share and visit share this year (25 percent and 24 percent respectively), but direct traffic isn’t far behind (21 percent and 22 percent).

Curbside pickup options, in particular, saw strong growth among shoppers wanting to avoid crowds and shipping delays. “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,” says Taylor Schreiner, director of digital insights, Adobe.

Cyber Monday

FOMO – or fear or missing out – hit folks pretty hard during the final hours of Cyber Monday. During the “golden hours of retail” (7 – 11 pm Pacific), consumers spent $2.7 billion online, accounting for a quarter of the day’s revenue. The peak hour was between 8 – 9 pm Pacific, which reached a purchasing rate of $12 million per minute.

On Cyber Monday, consumers scored some of the strongest discounts on computers (28 percent), sporting goods (20 percent), toys (19 percent), appliances (20 percent), and electronics (27 percent). Discounts are expected to lessen by approximately 5-10 percent across most categories in the weeks running up to Christmas.

Toys were a popular purchase during Cyber Monday, with Lego sets, vTech-brand toys, scooters and video games, all topping kids’ wish lists. Electronics like Apple AirPods and Watches, HP and Dell computers, as well as Chromecast were also popular.

Finally, curbside pickup saw a 30 percent growth YoY on Cyber Monday. For last minute online purchasing the most preferred shipping option is one-day shipping (45 percent) followed by curbside pickup (37 percent).

“Cyber Monday continued to dominate the holiday shopping season, becoming the biggest online shopping day in U.S. history, despite early discounts from retailers,” Schreiner says.

Black Friday

Consumers spent $9 billion online during Black Friday, up 21.6% from last year. This is the second largest online spending day in U.S. history, coming in behind Cyber Monday 2020. U.S. consumers spent $6.3 million per minute shopping online on Black Friday, or $27.50 on average per person. $3.6 billion was spent via smartphones, a 25.3 percent increase YoY, reaching 40 percent of the total online spend. In-store and curbside pickup increased 52 percent on Black Friday YoY, as many consumers looked to avoid in-store shopping.

On Black Friday, online shoppers got the strongest discounts on computers (28 percent), electronics (26 percent), appliances (20 percent), toys (17 percent) and sporting goods (18 percent). The most in-demand toys on Black Friday were Star Wars toys, Hot Wheels, NERF and video games. When it comes to electronics and appliances, Apple AirPods, Air Fryers, and Fire TV were most popular.

As online spend continued to build during Cyber Week 2020, certain product categories were seeing strong demand relative to October daily averages. These include toys (+294 percent) and personal care products (+278 percent).

Before Small Business Saturday, smaller retailers saw early success with sales 545 percent higher on Black Friday, compared to an average day the previous month, and a 211 percent boost in sales during the week compared to October. Based on Adobe’s accompanying survey data, 44 percent of consumers plan to support small and local retailers this holiday season, with 38 percent saying they will make a deliberate effort to shop at smaller retailers throughout the holiday season.

Thanksgiving Day

Thanksgiving Day, too, hit a new record with consumers spending $5.1 billion online, an increase of 21.5 percent YoY (online sales hit $4.2B on Thanksgiving Day in 2019). As the mobile shopping experience continues to improve, close to half (46.5 percent) of all online sales came from smartphones—setting a new record.

Additionally, retailers that offer curbside pickup benefited from a 31 percent higher conversion rate of traffic to their sites. We expect this to become even more pronounced as we approach Christmas, and free and less expensive shipping options continue to dwindle.

“While we did see a record-breaking Thanksgiving Day with over $5 billion spent online, it didn’t come with the kind growth rate we saw at the start of the pandemic,” Schreiner said. “While heavy discounts and promotions starting in early November succeeded at getting consumers to open their wallets earlier, many consumers held off on some of their gift purchases until Black Friday and Cyber Monday in hopes of scoring the best deals.”

Want to understand how much and when consumers are spending, as well as what they are buying this holiday season? We analyzed billions of data points across Adobe Experience Cloud to bring you the most comprehensive and accurate insights for online retail and e-commerce.

View the top consumer spending trends

Topics: Trends & Research, Commerce, Analytics, Digital Transformation, Retail and ECommerce Trends, COVID-19, Experience-Driven Commerce, Marketing, CMO by Adobe, Experience Cloud, Retail and ECommerce

Products: Analytics