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?  

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Black Friday and Cyber Monday Online Sales Set Records but Fall Short of High Expectations

Cyber Monday once again set the record for the largest online shopping day in the United States as consumers spent more than $10.8 billion online. Black Friday online sales also topped last year’s with $9.03 billion in online sales, but neither day lived up to the elevated expectations for online holiday spending during the pandemic.

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Cyber Weekend Fraud Declines See 30% Increase Year-Over-Year and 50% Increase Relative to Rest of Year

The number of order attempts declined for suspected fraud increased by nearly 30 percent year-over-year for orders between Thanksgiving and Cyber Monday, according to data from iovation, that also found a fraud decline rate 50 percent higher than the yearly average (15 percent vs. 10 percent). Likewise, a cyber security firm found a 63 percent increase in malware while phishing attacks jumped 51 percent on Black Friday.

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Winners and Losers in the Largest US Online Holiday Shopping Season Yet

Mobile and eCommerce shopping hit new highs this holiday season as Cyber Monday yet again beat its own record as the largest online shopping day in the U.S. with over $9.4 billion in eCommerce retail sales. This followed a record day for Black Friday which reached $7.4 billion in online sales while U.S. eCommerce volume on each day grew by nearly 20 percent year-over-year. One channel’s gain is another’s loss, however, as total holiday sales had a much more modest 3.4 percent growth. Department stores saw total holiday retail sales fall nearly two percent, despite growth of 7 percent in online sales. The biggest winner was mobile holiday sales, which increased 55 percent on CyberMonday year-over-year.

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Cyber Monday and Black Friday Reach Record Highs Totaling More Than $14 Billion in Online Sales

Cyber Monday 2018 was the largest online shopping day recorded in the U.S. with $7.9 billion in sales volume, according to Adobe Analytics. Online sales on Black Friday grew 24 percent from 2017 to $6.2 billion this year as mobile shopping and pick-up in-store saw the largest growth.

While Cyber Monday online spending increased about 20 percent year-over-year, mobile payment transactions represented $2.2 billion of the $7.9 billion sales total for the day. Mobile spending was up nearly 56 percent from Cyber Monday 2017. Adobe additionally estimates that online sales on Thanksgiving Day reached $3.7 billion, an increase of 29 percent from 2017.

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Thanksgiving, Black Friday and Cyber Monday all Set New Record Highs

Desktop and mobile eCommerce sales reached a combined $14.5 billion across Thanksgiving, Black Friday and Cyber Monday, while CNP channel sales on each day increased by at least 17 percent year-over-year. The nearly $6.6 billion in eCommerce sales on Cyber Monday set a new record for the largest online shopping day in North America, as Cyber Monday marked the fifth consecutive day with over $1 billion in online sales.

Online and mobile eCommerce sales on Thanksgiving Day increased more than 18 percent to $2.87 billion this year. Digital commerce sales exceeded $5 billion on Black Friday and reached $6.59 billion on Cyber Monday, each increases of about 17 percent from last year.

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Black Friday Sets New U.S. Total Online Sales Record, Surpassed by Cyber Monday Days Later

Consumers continue to shop more online and from their mobile devices on Thanksgiving, Black Friday and Cyber Monday with another record-setting year. Black Friday 2016 turned out to be the third largest desktop eCommerce shopping day of all-time  in the U.S., but Adobe, including mobile commerce, estimated online Black Friday sales to reach $3.34 billion, surpassing even Cyber Monday from last year. Black Friday became the largest online shopping day in the U.S. including desktop, smartphone and tablet transactions, but this status was short-lived and soon surpassed by this Cyber Monday, when consumers spent $3.39 billion online across all devices.

According to comScore, from November 1st to Black Friday consumers spent over $24.5 billion online from PCs, a 12 percent increase from the corresponding time frame last year. Much of this increase in desktop eCommerce spending occurred on Thanksgiving and Black Friday, when eCommerce volume increased 17 and 19 percent, respectively, from 2015 levels. This included $1.29 billion in desktop eCommerce sales on Thanksgiving and nearly $2 billion spent on Black Friday. Adobe, which included mobile and tablet sales in addition to desktop eComerce, estimated total Black Friday online sales at $3.34 billion, a 22 percent increase from 2015. This marked the largest online shopping day in the U.S. of all-time, records that had previously been surpassed each Cyber Monday.

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Mobile Driving More Sales So Far this Holiday Season

Consumers made more than $2 billion worth of purchases in the mobile eCommerce channel between Thanksgiving, Black Friday and Cyber Monday. Adobe reports that mobile devices accounted for nearly half of online shopping visits while comScore estimates that mobile eCommerce spending increased 53 percent from last year on Cyber Monday.

If the consumer shopping trends observed from Thanksgiving through Cyber Monday continue, merchants can expect to generate a lot of revenue in the mobile channel this holiday season. According to estimates from Adobe’s Digital Index, mobile shopping visits exceeded desktop site visits on Thanksgiving Day. Consumers continued to favor mobile devices more this year on Black Friday and Cyber Monday as well.

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eCommerce Retail Spending Thanksgiving through Cyber Monday Grew 10 Percent While Brick-and-Mortar has Another Year of Decline

According to estimates from comScore, U.S. consumers spent over $7.2 billion online from PCs during the five day period from Thanksgiving to Cyber Monday, up 10 percent from $6.5 billion last year. As more consumers chose to shop online retail sales at the point-of-sale declined on Thanksgiving and Black Friday for the second consecutive year. According to estimates from ShopperTrack, brick-and-mortar sales totaled $1.8 billion on Thanksgiving and $10.4 billion on Black Friday, each down about 10 percent from 2014.

Meanwhile desktop eCommerce retail spending on Black Friday grew nearly 10 percent this year to $1.66 billion up from $1.51 billion in 2014, according to comScore data. Although ShopperTrak reports that brick-and-mortar retail volume fell 10 percent on Black Friday, it still totaled $11.6 billion for the day, which is about 7 times the desktop eCommerce spending. While the bulk of Black Friday sales still occur at physical retail stores the share of total Black Friday sales occurring online continues to grow as online spending trends upward and in-store spending hits another year of decline. Nearly 16 percent of Black Friday sales occurred online this year, compared to 14 percent last year, 11 percent in 2013 and below 9 percent every year prior.

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Decline in Total Retail Sales Over Thanksgiving Weekend Followed by Largest U.S. Online Shopping Day Ever

In the four days from Thanksgiving to the following Sunday total U.S. retail spending declined, but eCommerce retail enjoyed strong growth over the holiday weekend and an even better Cyber Monday as it became the first time online spending in the United States eclipsed $2 billion in a single day.

Preliminary estimates following the largest five-day shopping period in the United States have a mix of good and bad news for retailers. According to estimates from the National Retail Federation (NRF), total spending in the U.S. over the Thanksgiving holiday weekend (Thursday to Sunday) fell 11 percent from 2013, but it could’ve been much worse if not for the continued growth of online sales. According to estimates from ComScore, eCommerce retail spending from PCs during the five-day period from Thanksgiving to Cyber Monday reached $6.56 billion, a 24 percent increase from 2013.

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