Holiday Shopping 2018 - How Black Friday/Cyber Monday fared this year

Black Friday and Cyber Monday are two big events in the world of E-commerce. So big that in fact sales now run throughout the weekend.

So what were the numbers like for 2018? On Black Friday, online US Shoppers spent $6.2 billion. On Cyber Monday, it was a record $7.9 billion, an almost 20% increase from 2017 (Adobe Analytics). The biggest spenders were older millennials and Gen X shoppers, who spent $413.05 on average.

Brick-and-mortar sales during the four-day period from Thanksgiving to Sunday were down 6.6 % this year (RetailNext). This is indicative of the ongoing shift away from physical stores towards E-commerce. Interestingly, orders placed online and then picked up in-store over the weekend saw a record 50% increase year-over-year (Adobe Analytics)

Email marketing campaigns were particularly successful in reaching consumers. Over 40% of the whole weekend’s campaigns were sent on Black Friday, profiting from an average order count of 9.44. While Cyber Monday had 30% of the weekend’s campaigns, with the average order count of 5.56 (Omnisend).

View marketing emails on Plannista’s Time Machine here

With over $14 billion spent throughout the weekend, it was clearly a success for E-commerce brands. Let’s take a look at what we saw from them.

Hot Trends This Year

Free Shipping

Consumers increasingly demand convenience, speedier delivery and free shipping. Many retailers have listened and upped their free shipping game.

However, the general consensus among retailers is that this will lead to higher fulfillment and delivery costs, eating into margins (RBC Capital Markets).

Mobile shopping

Black Friday saw a record $2.1 billion of sales coming from smartphones, a new record. Shoppers prefered browsing the web rather than through mobile apps.

Mobile devices accounted for 67% of all digital traffic on Black Friday (Forbes). However, 54% of online orders were made on desktops, compared to 46% on mobile (Namogoo). So people still browse on mobile, but place their orders on desktops.

Social Media

There was a 73% growth in the use of Instagram to find deals (NRF). Consumers turned to social channels for both inspiration and deals. Retailers took advantage of Instagram’s new shopping feature where consumers can click through on the images to shop.

These were the top trends during the holidays, now let’s break it down by sector.

Here are some standout deals from beauty, home, apparel and shoe brands

Beauty

Beauty brands had fantastic sales throughout the weekend. Benefit, Bobbi Brown, Mac and Clinique were some of the many brands offering 25% off sitewide. Becca Cosmetics had a whopping 50% off palettes, blushes and brushes on Black Friday and 30% off sitewide on Cyber Monday.

Home

Major home decor brands went all-out with promotions during this period.

Brylane Home, West Elm, Birch Lane, Wayfair and William Sonoma are just a few of them.

A few standout promotions were Brylane Home’s 50% off online orders as well as Frontgate’s 30% off sitewide. The rest of the brands offered smaller discounts such as an additional 20% off sale items.

Apparel

When it comes to sales, fashion brands rule the roost.  In general, apparel brands offered 30%-50% off. These percentage discounts were for entire orders and not just restricted to certain items.

Shoes

Aldo came in strong with 50% off all sale items and 20% off regular items. Their sales lasted throughout the weekend, spilling over into Cyber Monday as well

What Consumers Liked This Year

Free shipping was definitely a must-have this year. But consumers also really took to free gifts, exclusive sales and in-cart upselling (Shopify).

Steve Madden’s Black Friday sale of 35% off was exclusively for SM Pass members. Other brands such as Inkfam also had “early access” deals for members. Exclusive sales like this are gaining traction and we can expect to see more of them going forward.

Offering free gifts is another way to attract customers and boost sales. Brand such as Origin and Biotherm, offered a free gift with a certain spend. Another successful marketing tactic this year was in-cart upselling. Pura-vida added in-cart upselling to its checkout page, and a third of all orders placed over the holidays included an upsell.

What Went Wrong

Big events like the holidays bring about a huge surge in online traffic. Many E-commerce websites were not able to handle the demand this year, leading to frustrated customers and a loss of sales. Lowe’s, J. Crew and Lululemon Athletica were some of the brands which had websites that went offline for periods of time.

There might have been glitches for some brands but with an increase in sales this year, it was a successful holiday weekend.


Overall, most brands had sales throughout the weekend. Long gone are the days when Black Friday was a one-day sale. According to Retaildive, online prices on Thanksgiving Day were as low as on Black Friday for the first time. Consumers really took to this and made Thanksgiving Day the fastest growing online shopping day this year.  It is now at least a 5 day event and it looks like this trend will only continue from here.

By: Tara Diong

Tara Diong