Consumers In Cruise Control For The Holidays

Hero Image - Young man walking and shopping for mixer on mobile phone.

Reflections on the 2023 Holidays:  Strong, consistent, and surging into the new year

This post will examine the resilient online shoppers’ behavior during the holiday season, critical shopping holidays, and online channel preference. Mobile reliance, the deal-minded nature of the shopper, and online feature usage will also be addressed.  

According to Adobe Analytics, Black Friday generated $9.8 billion in U.S. online sales, up 7.5% from a year ago. Cyber Monday saw strong results as consumers spent $12.4 billion, a 9.6% increase from 2022. 

Throughout these critical holidays, Bizrate Insights took the pulse of the holiday shopper. When asked if a particular time would be their biggest online shopping period of the year, Thanksgiving weekend received the most votes at 58%, followed by Cyber Week at 47%. Cyber Monday and pre-Thanksgiving week were on par at 44% and 43%, respectively. 

Mobile bridges online and in-store shopping

Mobile shopping continues to rise, according to Adobe Analytics. They predict that more than half of holiday spending online (51.2%) will be on mobile devices. They also found that smartphones accounted for $5.3 billion of all online sales on Black Friday, up?10.4% year over year. The improvement in mobile usability and convenience were likely important factors underlying that growth.  

Bizrate Insights research concurred with the finding that mobile drives online shopping, with 94% of Cyber Monday shoppers using mobile devices. At the same time, Thanksgiving weekend usage was seen by 3 in 4 online shoppers. At-home usage was nearly universal over these holidays, though use in retail stores remained a factor for 29% of survey respondents during each holiday period. 

Our Cyber Week survey of online shoppers shows that 81% used their mobile devices to buy. Browsing and researching products was ideal for onsite and store-based shopping and was done by most shoppers (57%). Prep activity could also be seen via price checks (54%) supporting the deal-seeking that permeates holiday shopping. Reading reviews was routine among one in three online shoppers. Omnichannel usage manifests itself with locating stores (23%) and gathering general store information (21%). 12% looked at policy information, and 9% used a bar code for research purposes.

The Price is Right

Expectations are that Thanksgiving weekend and Cyber Monday are all about gift-giving. Such was the case for 38% of those surveyed. Following close behind were the discounts that were too good to pass up for 28%, and the 15% who said they had been waiting for holiday discounts on particular items. Interesting responses for those who cited “other” included need, replenishment, and birthday giving. It’s always a good time to purchase when the price is right.

Shoppers buy when the deals are on

Regardless of the device, the deal determines when people will shop. That applies to the day they are most likely to buy on their desktop or mobile devices (74%/73%), respectively. Mondays garner limited interest, likely due to more favorable weekend purchase numbers (12%/10%).

Shoppers Avoid In-Store Shopping 

On a side note, Mastercard SpendingPulse reported that Black Friday’s eCommerce sales increased 8.5% year over year, while in-store sales only increased 1.1%.

Shoppers made conscious choices that favored the online channel. During the pre-Thanksgiving week, 7 in 10 shoppers agreed they shopped less in stores because they shopped online instead. That number grew to 80% as the Thanksgiving weekend arrived, and online became the overwhelming channel of choice. Cyber Monday saw similar patterns, coming in at 79%. 

During Thanksgiving weekend, 88% of shoppers preferred to shop online rather than visit crowded stores.  A smaller but still substantial number – 71% –claimed it was better deals that drove them online. 

Omnichannel store visits were scant, as only 71% said they visited a store before purchasing the items online. For those that visited a brick-and-mortar store, price comparison among channels (10%), waiting for an online discount (9%), and still deciding on (8%) were the top three reasons shoppers went to stores. 

Free shipping sees significant usage in the holiday season

A quick look at some of the features shoppers use while shopping online sees free shipping as the overwhelming favorite. The omnichannel interest sees 22% buying online and picking up in-store. 14% of shoppers identify as last-minute buyers extending the season. 

Membership has its privileges

60% reported belonging to shipping clubs. Undoubtedly, this is a significant factor in Amazon’s current business and future growth. 62% of those who belong report spending more money at that retailer, which will have a bottom-line impact.  

The gift card remains integral to holiday shopping

Our last tactic for discussion is the gift card. As early as November, survey findings show that the gift card is still formidable. Its role as a year-round favorite and last-minute savior is well known. Our research revealed that 60% hope to receive such cards, while 44% suggest they will be givers.   

Online strength surges   

The deal once again takes center stage, and it guides online shoppers. These shoppers shop throughout the holiday season in the hunt for the perfect promotion, including free shipping. The convenience of mobile means an increased use of these devices to research but, more significantly, to buy. The numbers are substantial as the online channel secures its place for the holidays and is poised for growth in 2024 and beyond.