Black Friday I watched the local Chicago news broadcasts from area malls and other retail locations. The lines of shoppers waiting for stores to open were short compared to prior years. When the stores opened, there were not the long lines of customers that rushed through the doors as in past years. TV commentators ad-libbed about products during their segments, as they could not catch any nearby shoppers to interview. 

Was shopping down? The data says not at all. Black Friday and Cyber Monday were a huge success for most retailers. Sales were up. But when and where sales are happening is shifting. 

Black Friday – Cyber Monday by the Numbers*

More buyers opted to shop online for Black Friday this year, but Cyber Monday is still the busiest day for online purchases:

  • Black Friday online purchases were up 21.6% over prior year.
  • Cyber Monday online sales are reported up 12.1% – 16% over prior year, depending on the source. 
  • Online holiday sales are starting earlier and spreading out over longer periods of time.
  • Black Friday online sales of $3.34 billion are beginning to rival Cyber Monday sales of $3.45 billion.
  • 70% of America’s top retailers started their holiday deals before Thanksgiving.
  • Amazon’s Black Friday/Cyber Week promotions span over a month this year. 

While most online orders were still placed on a desktop, mobile sales on a tablet or phone grew considerably:

  • Mobile purchases for the holiday weekend grew 32% over last year.
  • 35% of Cyber Monday sales happened on a mobile device. Email was critical to online holiday sales success.
  • Email drove over 18% of online sales in the first 28 days of November.
  • Email drove 18x the volume of sales social media generated November 1- 28.
  • The number of Cyber Monday themed emails sent on Cyber Monday grew 42%
  • Black Friday themed emails sent the day after Thanksgiving grew 55%.
  • Consumers are reading holiday sales emails more. Black Friday and Cyber Monday emails had read rates** of 19-20%, up 12-13% over last year. 

If you sell online what should you take away from this?

Keep promoting. Look at the length of Amazon’s campaigns! The holiday selling season is not over. There are still almost 3 weeks until Christmas and Hanukkah doesn’t begin until December 24th this year.

Do not fear emailing too often. Several retailers are emailing multiple times per day and extending the length of their holiday campaigns to span more days. Read rates are increasing, not decreasing. Consumers are looking for offers in their email inbox.

Make sure your email messages and landing pages are optimized to render properly on a mobile device.

The time to plan next year’s holiday campaign is not October, or July. Start in January. Do a thorough look at your 2016 promotions and performance and set goals for next season.


*Credits to Internet Retailer, Adobe, IBM and eDataSource for statistics. **When an email is not only opened, but stays open for at least 8 seconds, it is measured that the consumer is not only opening, but reading your email. Read rate refers to what percent of your emails are being read.