US online sales to hit $143.7bn this holiday season: report

David Murphy

US online sales for the 2019 holiday season will increase by 14.1 per cent to reach $143.7bn (£111.4bn), while total retail spending – both online and offline – is expected to increase by 4 per cent.

The figures come from Adobe. They are powered by Adobe Sensei, the company’s AI and machine learning technology and based on Adobe Analytics data, covering trillions of data points that flow through Adobe Analytics and Adobe Commerce Cloud, part of Adobe Experience Cloud. Adobe Analytics analyzes one trillion visits to US retail sites, 55m SKUs and features 80 of the largest 100 US web retailers.

Cyber Monday will set a new record as the largest – and fastest – growing online shopping day of the year with $9.4bn in sales, an 18.9 per cent increase year-on-year (YoY). Online sales between 7 p.m. and 11 p.m. Pacific Time on Cyber Monday are expected to drive over $3bn in revenue, with sales conversions nearly doubling during these golden hours of online retail.

Thanksgiving Day sales are expected to increase by 19.5 per cent, generating $4.4bn. One out of five dollars this holiday season will be spent during Cyber Week between Thanksgiving Day and Cyber Monday, generating $29bn or 20 per cent of total online revenue this season.

With just 22 days between Cyber Monday and Christmas Day, there are six fewer days of peak holiday shopping days than 2018, translating into almost $1bn of potential revenue lost due to the abridged time period. The compressed shopping calendar means that retailers will begin sales earlier than ever before, with each day in November and December surpassing $1bn in online retail sales for the first time.

Americans will spend $14bn more on their smartphones than last year, accounting for 36 per cent of all online sales, a 20 per cent year-on-year increase, and 57 per cent of visits, an 11 per cent year-on-year increase. With retailers optimizing for mobile, online spend on smartphones will increase from 30 to 47 cents per minute, a 63 per cent jump since 2016. Consumers will continue to use desktops to make research-heavy purchases like furniture, electronics and appliances, resulting in a 28 per cent higher average order value than on smartphones.

“The compressed shopping cycle will see retailers launching offers far earlier than ever before,” said John Copeland, head of marketing and customer insights at Adobe. “With fewer days to spend, Adobe Analytics predicts that BOPIS (buy online, pick up in store) will be more popular than ever before, with revenue from this delivery method doubling in the week before Christmas as shoppers rush to complete their gift lists.”

While online giants will see revenue increase by 65 per cent, smaller retailers will only enjoy a 35 per cent boost. Large retailers ( with an annual online revenue of over $1bn) will be the clear winners on Black Friday and Cyber Monday, with smaller retailers (with less than $50m annual online revenue) failing to drive strong online traction, despite the growing awareness of Small Business Saturday. Additionally, large retailers will benefit from higher conversion rates, with customers visiting their sites 32 per cent more likely to convert versus smaller retailers (23 per cent).

50 per cent of consumers state that ads during the holiday shopping season impact their purchasing decisions while email continues to be the most preferred way to get an offer while holiday shopping. Smartphone visits to retail sites from social media have tripled in the past three years from 4 per cent to 11 per cent. However, visits coming from social platforms result in lower conversions compared to other channels like search or email.