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Inside Black Friday, Cyber Monday 2019: Cyber Week Data Reveals Big Wins for Retail

By Sharon Shapiro

We have yet to see eCommerce sales eclipse brick and mortar retail sales year round, but Black Friday, Cyber Monday and the surrounding days that make up a full “Cyber Week” are a different story.

Once again, Cyber Week crushed previous records, especially when it comes to eCommerce sales. And with Thanksgiving falling later on the calendar this year, spikes in site traffic and purchases started well ahead of Black Friday 2019. Let’s take a look at the data.

Black Friday is Still the Strongest Day for Retail, But it’s Not What it Once Was

There’s no doubt that a full Cyber Week has spread out shopping beyond what used to be a single blockbuster day. While Black Friday still reigns supreme as the strongest day for retail, we’re starting to see the impact of shoppers looking for sales throughout the entire week.

For example, while site traffic for retailers still increased significantly compared to a typical day, only footwear and home retailers saw increases in site traffic compared to Black Friday 2018.

In addition to shoppers spreading purchases throughout the full Cyber Week, they’re also doing more research ahead of time. All retail verticals saw an increase in shoppers viewing products ahead of Black Friday compared to 2018. This trend indicates that not only are Black Friday purchases less likely to be impulse buys, but also that consumers are doing their homework ahead of time to scope out the best possible deals. 

Despite the deep discounts on offer, retailers of all kinds saw an increase in average order values on Black Friday compared to a typical day. Beauty retailers, in particular, saw the biggest increase in order values in 2019. This data indicates that the discounts are encouraging shoppers to buy more than they normally would.

The Importance of a Full Cyber Week was Clear in 2019

Data confirms that Black Friday is no longer the only busy shopping day to kick off the holiday season. Retailers have put a lot of effort toward attracting shoppers on Cyber Monday in recent years, and those efforts certainly paid off in 2019.

In fact, retailers saw a bigger increase in customers purchasing compared to a typical day on Cyber Monday than they did on Black Friday.

cyber week 2019 - shoppers who purchased compared to typical day

Retailers also brought in more individual orders on Cyber Monday 2019 than they did on Black Friday 2019. Cyber Monday outperformed Black Friday in terms of number of orders in 2018 as well, making this a notable trend to continue to watch.

cyber week 2019 - orders relative to black friday

While Cyber Monday pulled in more individual orders than Black Friday, the orders themselves were less valuable for retailers. The average order value on Cyber Monday 2019 was slightly down compared to Black Friday, but, surprisingly, Black Friday didn’t bring in the highest average order value for the full Cyber Week. 

Thanksgiving Day 2019 actually saw the same (and even very slightly higher) average order compared to Black Friday. Additionally, sales on the Sunday and Monday before Thanksgiving brought in average order values on par with Cyber Monday.

cyber week 2019 - order value relative to black friday

A similar pattern emerges when looking at the number of products in each order. Specifically, Thanksgiving Day falls in line with Black Friday in terms of number of products per order. However, the days immediately after Black Friday saw more products per order than the weekend before Thanksgiving.

cyber week 2019 - product per order relative to black friday

Altogether, this data indicates that shoppers who bought before and during Thanksgiving were more likely to purchase fewer, higher priced items, while shoppers who bought on Black Friday and after were more likely to purchase more, lower priced items.

The trend of purchases ahead of Thanksgiving is likely due to two factors: 

  1. The late timing of Thanksgiving in 2019, which shortens the holiday shopping season
  2. The amount of shoppers doing research ahead of Black Friday and potentially finding big sales earlier than expected

2019 Cyber Week Outperforms 2018 Across the Board

All in, Cyber Week 2019 proved even stronger for retailers than it did in 2018, which is impressive given the records retailers set last year.

Daily revenue increased between 9-25% throughout Cyber Week 2019 compared to last year. The biggest increases came between Thanksgiving Day and the following Sunday as well as on the Saturday before Thanksgiving.

cyber week 2019 - 2019 revenue compared to 2018

Daily site traffic increased as well compared to Cyber Week 2018. These spikes were more evenly spread out through the week, with consistent increases coming throughout the entire week leading up to Black Friday.

cyber week 2019 - 2019 site traffic compared to 2018

Given the increases in revenue and site traffic each day, it’s not surprising that retailers also saw more purchases from individual customers during Cyber Week 2019 compared to 2018. Under this lens, retailers saw the biggest year over year increase on the Sunday after Thanksgiving and one of the smallest year over year increases on Cyber Monday.

cyber week 2019 - 2019 customers who purchased compared to 2018

Holiday Gains Deliver Long Term Benefits

Critically, all of these gains deliver more than just short term benefits to retailers. An average of 54% of Black Friday shoppers were first-time customers for retailers, which presents a mountain of opportunity in the coming months to turn these one-time buyers into repeat purchasers.

Retailers had marked success in this area last year, with an average of 6% of first-time buyers from Black Friday 2018 making a second purchase during the holiday season and an average of 22% of first-time buyers from Black Friday 2018 making a second purchase within a year.

Retailers hoping to see similar or better gains this time around should focus on targeting first-time Cyber Week buyers with next best purchase recommendations to encourage them to make that all-important second purchase sooner rather than later.

Cyber Week is Only the Beginning

Cyber Week 2019 may have broken records, but the holiday shopping season is far from over. For more ideas on how to keep shoppers coming back throughout the holiday season, check out our Rethinking Retail: Holiday Marketing Playbook.

Sharon Shapiro

Sharon Shapiro

Sharon leads Bluecore's content marketing program, collaborating with top retailers and strategists to highlight the latest trends in retail marketing, spotlight industry leaders and share advice on how marketers can stay ahead of the curve. An experienced story teller, she has spent her career building content marketing programs for B2B SaaS companies. Sharon has had works featured in MarketingProfs and Content Science Review..