A record number of consumers shopped the Cyber Five this year, motivated by deals and gift-giving

It’s official. The Cyber Five (the five-day period between Thanksgiving and Cyber Monday) have not lost their touch. Let’s dig into the data as retailers take a deep breath and ready themselves for what’s shaping up to be a pretty busy holiday season.

Record-breaker: More than 196 million US consumers shopped online and in-store over the Cyber Five, according to the National Retail Federation (NRF), the highest number of shoppers since the organization started tracking this data in 2017.

  • Consumers spent an average of $325.44 on holiday-related purchases over the weekend. Of that, $229.21 was spent specifically on gifts.
  • The NRF estimates that holiday retail sales from November 1 to December 31 will total between $942.6 billion and $960.4 billion, less than our prediction of $1.297 trillion.

Ecommerce excellence: Over the course of the Cyber Five period, consumers spent $35.27 billion online, up 4% year over year (YoY), per Adobe Analytics data.

  • This growth was spurred by record-breaking spending during Thanksgiving ($5.29 billion, up 2.9% YoY), Black Friday ($9.12 billion, up 2.3% YoY), and Cyber Monday ($11.3 billion, up 5.8%).
  • Adobe expects online spending for the full holiday season (November 1 to December 31) will hit $210.1 billion, growing 2.75% YoY. This is slightly under our ecommerce forecast of $239.26 billion, a 12.0% increase over last year.
  • Best-selling categories during the Cyber Five included toys, jewelry, sporting goods, apparel, and books (all great for gifting), as well as big-ticket items like electronics, computers, appliances.

Ad check in: According to Adobe, paid search was the biggest driver of sales for retailers across the Cyber Five (representing 28% of online sales), followed by direct marketing (18%), affiliate/partner marketing (18%), email (17%), and organic search (15%).

  • But social media’s contribution is growing. Though revenues attributable to social media are less than 5% of total Cyber Five sales, its share has grown 27% year over year.

Trend watch: Why and how did consumers shop this week? Here are four observations from Adobe.

1. Discounts drove consumers to spend. Electronics and toys were the most discounted categories (25% and 34% off list price, respectively), followed by computers, televisions, apparel, sporting goods, furniture, and appliances.

2. Mobile shopping adoption grew. Consumer shopping on mobile drove over half of the weekend’s sales for the first time this year. Thanksgiving, in particular, saw a surge in mobile shopping, with 55% of sales coming from smartphones (up from 51% last year).

3. Consumers dug flexible payment options. Orders placed with buy now, pay later (BNPL) services grew 85% and BNPL revenues increased 88% compared with the week prior.

4. Curbside pickup use declined. As more shoppers returned to physical stores, curbside pickup fell to the wayside.

The Cyber Six? Grocery stores typically enjoy a traffic bump on the Wednesday before Thanksgiving (aka Turkey Wednesday) as consumers do last-minute meal shopping. This year, daily visits fell behind last year, down 2.5%, but remained above 2020 by 12.5% and 2019 by 4.5%, per Placer.ai.

  • Interestingly, traditional retailers like Albertsons and Publix saw more foot traffic than discount retailers like Lidl, Aldi, and Trader Joe’s—a sign that food costs are easing? Or are consumers resorting to familiar favorites for the holidays?

Wrapped up in a bow: If this past weekend is any indication, a healthy holiday shopping season is ahead of us, especially if retailers keep up the deals.

Though the heavy discounting needed to bring in customers may not be ideal for the bottom line, it seems to be working. Plus, it may help ease the bloated inventories that have plagued retailers all year, putting them in a good position heading into the new year.


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