Key Takeaways from the 2018 Holiday Shopping Season - Lift361

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Key Takeaways from the 2018 Holiday Shopping Season

By Ed Higdon. Posted in Insight

February 06, 2019

Now that the 2018 holiday season is behind us and retailers have already put their 2019 strategy into motion, it’s a great time to examine the impact of e-commerce and online shopping in Q4 2018. What were some of the most significant trends, and where were the hits and misses?

E-Commerce On the Rise

It should come as no surprise that spending increased once again this past holiday season and e-commerce led the way. According to early data from Adobe, holiday retail sales rose significantly from 2017. Their reports indicate a 16.5 percent increase for all sales, with average sales per day from November 1 through December 25 reaching $2.1 billion, an increase from $1.8 billion the year before.

Over 19 percent of total holiday revenue was generated between Thanksgiving Day and Cyber Monday. That five-day weekend generated nearly $25 billion in sales, up 23 percent from the same timeframe the year before. Thanksgiving, Black Friday and Cyber Monday 2018 all broke sales records.

For the first time in history, smartphones yielded 50 percent of all e-commerce traffic and accounted for 31 percent of total sales. However, smartphone users still converted significantly less than desktop conversions. Some holiday e-commerce highlights:

  • Revenue share by device
    • Desktop: 60.3 percent ($76.0 billion)
    • Smartphone: 30.8 percent ($38.8 billion)
    • Tablet: 8.9 percent ($11.2 billion)
  • Traffic by device
    • Desktop: 40.7 percent
    • Smartphone: 51.0 percent
    • Tablet: 8.3 percent
  • Sales conversion rates
    • Desktop: 4.7 percent
    • Smartphone: 2.3 percent
    • Tablet: 4.5 percent

How Did Brick-And-Mortar Fare?

Final post-mortems have yet to be released, but some preliminary numbers are available for brick-and-mortar sales. While e-commerce soared, many top retailers struggled with in-store sales during the holidays. Macy’s reported a mere 1.1 percent increase in same-store sales during November and December, experiencing a significant drop in mid-December.

Kohl’s had a strong 2018 leading up to the holidays, but reported just 1.2 percent growth during the holiday season, down from 6.9 percent growth the year before. Nordstrom also announced sluggish sales growth – just 0.3%, thanks to less foot traffic. However, Nordstrom Rack – the discount arm of the chain – reported growth of 3.0 percent, with 18 percent growth in online transactions.

Full data will be released throughout Q1, but it seems that e-commerce drove the success of the holiday season and brick-and-mortar stores will need to strategize heavily to grow sales for the 2019 season.