People spent $142.5 billion online during the 2019 holiday season (November through December), up 13.1% year-over-year. The primary growth driver? Smartphones, which drove nearly all (84%) of the online sales growth during the period.
That’s among the key findings of Adobe’s 2019 Holiday Recap report, which used Adobe Analytics as well as AI and machine learning via Adobe Sensei to analyse trillions of visits to U.S. retail sites. Smartphones, the study found, accounted for 36% of online revenue (up 21% YoY) and also accounted for 58% of traffic to retail sites November through December (up 14% YoY).
It’s important to note, however, that completing the buying process on smartphones still lags compared to desktop, (3.0 vs. 5.9 checkouts per 100 visits), and smartphones have higher cart abandonment rates as well (50% vs. 33%).
“Smartphones drove tremendous growth in online sales this holiday season and we expect mobile commerce to continue to grow as experiences improve,” said Jason Woosley, VP of commerce at Adobe. “Other growth drivers for the 2019 holidays include the 5-day period between Thanksgiving and Cyber Monday hitting record heights, BOPIS, as well as an earlier start to holiday-inspired deals from retailers.”
Indeed, Cyber Weekend—Thanksgiving to Cyber Monday—raked in 20% of overall holiday online sales, up 17.7% YoY. Also of note, the week before Thanksgiving experienced strong growth because the retail deals started earlier. The Wednesday before Thanksgiving continues to rival last year’s Small Business Saturday with $2.9 billion vs. $3 billion in online revenue, respectively.
Buy online, pick up in-store (BOPIS) revenue was up 35% on average for the season. BOPIS hit a peak in the seven days leading up to Christmas, when revenue increased 55% as consumers undoubtedly did some last-minute online shopping.
Retailers large and small saw increases in sales during the holiday season, although the giants saw more growth. Large retailers grew their online sales by over 65% on average, and smaller ones grew online sales by 35%. Still, online revenue growth during the holidays continues to outpace overall retail growth (13.1% online vs. 4.0% overall). Consumers collectively spent $2.3 billion per day (on average) across the season. In fact, every day exceeded $1 billion in online sales except for Christmas Eve. This holiday season also had 29 $2 billion days (up from 26 in 2018).
“People are more connected today than ever before. We all have a smartphone in our pocket and that is really what is driving the uptick in mobile commerce and e-commerce overall,” Woosely said. “You can literally think of something you need and just purchase it right that second. This always-on and always connected trend will continue to accelerate, especially as the definition of mobility continues to expand to new devices and modes of accessing the Internet.”