Holiday Shopping Pulled Forward While Online Shopping Surge Continues

Cyber Monday 2020 was the largest online shopping day in US history reaching $10.8 billion, but that superlative will likely be replaced this year as over $12.1 billion is forecasted for US online sales on Cyber Monday in 2021. As eCommerce holiday sales continue to surge, they are also pulled forward and spread out by consumers, worried about supply chain issues, beginning their holiday shopping earlier than usual. Nearly one-third of consumers plan to begin their holiday season shopping in the month of October. The question for online retailers is what does this mean for fraud and risk management during the holiday shopping months, which tend to be the most lucrative for merchants and fraudsters alike?  

According to an August 2021 poll, 31 percent of US adults will start their holiday shopping in October while an additional 24 percent will begin before Thanksgiving. While most consumers typically wait until Black Friday and Cyber Monday, many are pulling their purchases forward to get ahead of supply chain woes. Just 27 percent will wait until Thanksgiving or later, and just 10 percent will wait until December to begin their holiday shopping.

Cyber Monday and Black Friday are forecasted to hit their highest online sales numbers on records, with both holiday shopping day forecasts exceeding $10 billion spent online, which would be the first time any day other than Cyber Monday to exceed $10 billion transacted online in the US on a single day. While Black Friday and Cyber Monday hit record highs in 2020, it fell short of lofty expectations. The same may be true this year, as consumers increasingly worry that supply chain issues will prevent them from being able to purchase the gifts they want if they wait until Thanksgiving or later.

The big questions for merchants is, as 55 percent of US consumers plan to begin their holiday shopping before Thanksgiving, how do they approach fraud and risk management during the holiday season? Should seasonal fraud agents begin sooner and are anticipatory adjustments made to rules and models before Halloween? Cyber weekend volume will still be large enough for fraudsters to hide in the order flow, but do fraudsters also ramp up their activity sooner than later? If your organization sees elevated holiday order volume, you should already have answers and plans for these questions.

For more information:

eMarketer: Consumers to get jump-start on holiday shopping this year

eMarketer Forecast: US Holiday Shopping 2021