Home » OPINION » Columns » TODD SMITH — Holiday sales set records for Cyber Monday, Black Friday

TODD SMITH — Holiday sales set records for Cyber Monday, Black Friday


Cyber Monday sales vaulted to a multi-billion-dollar record, easily surpassing last year’s total, marking the largest online shopping day of all time in the U.S.

Based on data from Adobe Analytics – which tracks hundreds of retail websites – sales soared to $9.4 billion by the end of Cyber Monday, growing 19.7 percent year over year and beating last year’s record of nearly $8 billion.

That’s on the heels of more than a billion-dollar gain from Black Friday online sales. Online sales surged to $7.4 billion, up from $6.2 billion last year, according to Adobe Analytics. E-commerce is expected to account for nearly $170 billion of the roughly $730 billion in total holiday spending this year, according to National Retail Federation estimates.

It turns out that smartphones were the device of choice, with mobile transactions taking in a record $3.1 billion on Cyber Monday – the highest amount ever tallied using the smart devices.

“The coming days will reveal if retailers will extend their holiday sales more than years past due to the shortest possible remaining shopping season till Christmas,” said Taylor Schreiner, principal analyst and head of Adobe Digital Insights. “Whatever the case, companies offering fast fulfillment options like free one-day shipping or buy-online-pickup-in-store (BOPIS) will be well-positioned to help consumers purchase what they want in the few weeks left before Christmas.”

During what’s been dubbed by Adobe as the “golden hours of retail” – the four hours between 9 p.m. and 1 a.m. Central – consumers drove 31 percent of all Cyber Monday revenue to $2.9 billion, as shoppers hit “order” before time ran out.

During the peak hours between 10 p.m. to 11 p.m. Central, consumers spent $12 million on average every minute.

Amazon announced Tuesday that Cyber Monday – to no one’s surprise – scored the single biggest shopping day in the company’s history, based on the number of items ordered worldwide. It seems a rising tide lifted all boats on Cyber Monday.

Data from Adobe indicated that both larger and smaller retailers benefited extensively from consumers’ attention. Larger retailers, which received more than $1 billion in yearly revenue, saw an increase of sales of more than 540 percent while their smaller counterparts followed closely behind gaining more than $50 million in yearly revenue with a 337 percent increase in sales.

Top-selling items included toys from the hit movie, “Frozen 2,” L.O.L Surprise Dolls, the video games “Madden 20” and “Star Wars: Jedi Fallen Order,” Nintendo Switch, VR devices, Samsung TVs and Apple laptops.

A record 189.6 million U.S. consumers shopped from Thanksgiving Day through Cyber Monday this year, an increase of 14 percent over last year’s 165.8 million, according to an annual survey conducted by NRF and Prosper Insights & Analytics.

Shoppers spent an average $361.90 on holiday items over the five-day period, up 16 percent from $313.29 during the same period last year. Of the total, $257.33 (71 percent) was specifically spent on gifts. The biggest spenders were 25- to 34-year-olds at $440.46, closely followed by those 35-44 at $439.72.

The survey found that 124 million people shopped in stores while 142.2 million shopped on retailers’ websites; demonstrating today’s seamless shopping world, 75.7 million did both. Consumers who shopped in both channels spent an average $366.79, spending at least 25 percent more than those who shopped in only one or the other.

Black Friday was the busiest day for in-store activity, with 84.2 million shoppers, followed by Small Business Saturday (59.9 million), Thanksgiving Day (37.8 million), Sunday (29.2 million) and Cyber Monday (21.8 million). Of those shopping on Saturday, 73 percent were likely to shop specifically for Small Business Saturday.

With online and in-store shopping increasingly intermingled, free shipping was the biggest reason for shoppers to make a purchase they were otherwise hesitant about, cited by 49 percent, up from 42 percent last year. And the ability to order online and pick up in-store was cited by 20 percent, up from 15 percent last year. Other top factors included limited-time sales or promotions (36 percent) and an easy-to-use website or app (21 percent).

Thirty-nine percent of consumers looked to emails from retailers for information on deals and promotions, edging out conventional advertising circulars, which were tied with online search at 38 percent. Mobile devices played a significant role, used by 75 percent to research products, compare prices or make purchases, up from 66 percent last year, according to the survey.

Top gift purchases over the weekend included apparel (bought by 58 percent of those surveyed), toys (33 percent), electronics (31 percent), books/music/movies/video games (28 percent) and gift cards (27 percent).

Shopping destinations included department stores (visited by 50 percent of those surveyed), clothing stores (36 percent), grocery stores (34 percent), electronics stores (32 percent) and discount stores (29 percent).

On average, consumers had completed 52 percent of their shopping, up from 44 percent during the same weekend last year, although Thanksgiving came six days earlier in 2018. The survey found only 39 percent of shoppers believe deals seen over the Thanksgiving weekend will get better throughout the rest of the season.

NRF defines the holiday season as November 1 through December 31 and has forecast that sales will total between $727.9 and $730.7 billion. Consumers expect to spend an average $1,047.83 – including purchases made earlier – for an increase of 4 percent over last year, according to the NRF survey.

Existential Mic: Message of Survival, Stoicism is Word of the Year

The constant threat and crisis reflected not only in society and news, but also in dictionary work throughout this year crystalized Dictionary.com’s word of the year: existential.

High-stakes events around the world involving climate change, gun violence, and democratic institutions were some of the top news stories. And words about these events, from polar vortex to stochastic terrorism to exonerate, were top searches and trends on Dictionary.com.

Notable among searches was existential, which editors from the online dictionary chose as the Word of the Year for 2019. It captures a sense of grappling with the survival – literally and figuratively – of our planet, our loved ones, our ways of life.

But existential also inspires us to ask big questions about who we are and what our purpose is in the face of our various challenges – and it reminds us that we can make choices about our lives in how we answer those questions.

What does existential mean?

Dictionary.com defines the adjective existential in two senses. The first is “of or relating to existence.” Entering English in the late 1600s, this existential is often used when the fact of someone or something’s being – Its very existence – is at stake. An existential threat to a species, for example, puts its continued existence in real, concrete peril.

A second sense of existential is “concerned with the nature of human existence as determined by the individual’s freely made choices.” First recorded by the early 1900s, this existential is related to existentialism, a philosophy that affirms our individual agency in making meaningful, authentic choices about our lives.

Existexistence, and existential all derive from the Latin verb ex(s)istere, meaning “to come forth, appear, emerge, arise, be.” Also ultimately rooted in this Latin verb, existentialism was borrowed into English from the German name for the philosophical movement, Existentialismus – which was first recorded 100 years ago this year, in 1919, according to Dictionary.com.

So, why does existential best capture 2019?

According to Dictionary.com. Existential, as a word and theme, was prominent in discussions of topics that dominated 2019: climate change, gun violence, and democratic institutions. It also popped up in lighter stories in popular culture, signaling its place in the cultural zeitgeist.

There’s the word on the word that defined our year, made us introspective – and perhaps sparked a renewed passion for survival, and making a difference in the world!

Each week, The Spin Cycle will bestow a Golden Mic Award to the person, group or company in the court of public opinion that best exemplifies the tenets of solid PR, marketing and advertising – and those who don’t. Stay tuned – and step-up to the mic! And remember … Amplify Your Brand!

» TODD SMITH is co-founder, president and chief executive officer of Deane | Smith, a full-service branding, PR, marketing and advertising firm with offices in Jackson. The firm – based in Nashville, Tenn. – is also affiliated with Mad Genius. Contact him at todd@deanesmithpartners.com, follow him @spinsurgeon and like the ageny on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/deanesmithpartners, and join us on LinkedIn  http://www.linkedin.com/company/deane-smith-&-partners.


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About Ross Reily

Ross Reily is editor of the Mississippi Business Journal. He is a husband to an amazing wife, dad to 3 crazy kids and 2 dogs. He is also a fan of the Delta State Fighting Okra and the Boston Red Sox.