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Are eCommerce Shoppers Buying More and Earlier as Predicted?


Online retailers experienced robust revenue gains, 16% growth over the 6 core days of Thanksgiving sales, from the Wednesday on Thanksgiving week to Cyber Monday. Shoppers purchased significantly more during and after Thanksgiving week. Analysts in the industry previously gazed into their crystal balls and foresaw that the holiday shopping season would begin earlier. Articles even projected that ¼ of Americans will start their holiday shopping before Halloween.

Before Thanksgiving Week: Are shoppers buying more? Are they buying earlier?

Yes, no, and yes

Browsing for holiday gifts might not equate right away to sales. The revenue and transaction trends from 4 Mondays before Cyber Monday looked like this:


Huge spikes

What could have caused these big sales days were solid weekday promotions:

  • 3 weeks and 2 weeks before the week of Thanksgiving, offers were sent out earlier in the week. On average, online retailers experienced days with more than 18% surges in revenue every week.
  • Revenue far beyond outpaced transactions in the week before Thanksgiving. Retailers improved their marketing strategy, and average order value rocketed. This implied that businesses created high-value offers or bundles rather than discount on smaller purchases. In the same week, traffic rose substantially through Thursday and Friday.

Same budget, wild behavior

  • In the weeks before Thanksgiving, the cumulative budget for millions of shoppers remained steady.
  • Week by week the overall spend for shoppers was on par with 2014.
  • However, the data shows extraordinary changes in day to day buying behavior. The graph shows substantial differences in the concentrated buying periods. Retailers on the KalioCommerce platform quickly catered to these changes.

An outstanding Thanksgiving week

  • Customers started buying earlier and more beginning on the Tuesday of Thanksgiving week.
  • On Tuesday of Thanksgiving week, retailers saw a 23% revenue spike on average.
  • While Tuesday saw the largest growth, Cyber Monday netted the most dollars, followed by Black Friday and Thanksgiving Day. Those 3 days were also the biggest days in 2014.
  • Shoppers were eager to start shopping on Thanksgiving. Cumulative revenue increased 40% on Thanksgiving Day for online retailers who started their Black Friday and Cyber Monday promotions earlier.

How to continue to set new records

Offer free shipping instead of discounts

Discounts undercut overall revenue, so check that overall revenue is up for the entire period, not just that day. If growth for that period does not look too hot even though you had record-breaking single days, think about conducting an A/B test between free shipping and discounts to evaluate the difference in total revenue.

Keep your marketing calendar loaded

Continue to engage shoppers from now until Christmas, and even the New Years. Ideas for promotions include Green Monday week-long offers, 12 days of Christmas emails, post-holiday – pre-New Years “buy the gifts you really want” promotions, and “send all your friends stocking stuffers” reminders.

Key Highlights

  • An enormous appetite from Wednesday on Thanksgiving week to Cyber Monday led to major sales gains of 16%
  • Shoppers started buying 3 to 4 days earlier, seen by a 23% spike on the Tuesday of Thanksgiving week
  • 40% growth on Thanksgiving day for businesses who engaged with shoppers earlier
  • New shopping behaviors and offers created concentrated days each week where sales surged by 18%
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