Increase in year-long spending following onset of COVID-19 causes drop in 2020 Black Friday, Cyber Monday sales, analysis finds
After analyzing 68.8 billion pageviews across 15.5 billion users over two years, Dynamic Yield has tracked the impact COVID-19 has had on consumer spending during these typically highly-anticipated shopping events, as well as a complete year-over-year analysis.
For decades, the start of the holiday shopping season has been marked by the weekend following Thanksgiving in the United States. And in recent years, Black Friday and Cyber Monday have transformed into the most highly-anticipated shopping events of the year. But what happens when a global pandemic precedes these blockbuster shopping events?
The onset of COVID-19 has transformed consumer shopping behavior, changing the way people shop, spend their money, and more recently, how they prepare for the holidays. With more folks turning to eCommerce to complete purchases, many businesses have doubled down on their digital investments, turning to personalization and experience optimization to generate revenue in an increasingly competitive online landscape.
To better understand online and holiday shopping behavior globally, in 2020, Dynamic Yield analyzed 68.8 billion pageviews across 10 different eCommerce sub-industries as well as by device. Conducting a year-over-year (YoY) analysis and following up on our 2019 findings, our breakdown is designed to help eCommerce teams understand how they performed during an exceptional holiday season and to guide them as they continue to witness atypical consumer behavior.
Traffic growth preceding the “Cyber Five”
The five-day period beginning with Thanksgiving and ending with Cyber Monday is often referred to as the “Cyber Five,” and historically, has been the focus of brand marketing efforts. But this year, as the holiday shopping season kicked off earlier than ever (Amazon’s Prime Day took place from October 13-14, instead of July, for example), we observed eCommerce traffic grow globally ahead of the Thanksgiving holiday. In 2019, however, we saw conversions drop in the first month of November before reaching its holiday peak.
This steady climb translated to a 64% increase in average daily users in November 2020. Additionally, it resulted in a gradual month-over-month increase in conversion rate between September and November across sub-industries, most notably consumer goods, food & beverage, and home & furniture.
A steady increase in conversions was seen among consumer goods, food & beverage, and home & furniture brands leading up to the 2020 holidays.
A closer look at 2020 holiday spending patterns
While our analysis shows little global variance between 2019 and 2020 purchase behavior, it uncovered a more interesting data point: eCommerce spending throughout the course of 2020 exceeded that of 2019.
This observation sheds some light on Black Friday / Cyber Monday consumer behavior, as it is likely the reason we only observed a 2% increase in purchases during the holiday weekend this year. Consumers, who conducted eCommerce purchases at a higher rate following the onset of COVID-19 and consistently did so over the course of the months leading up to November, had less of an urgent need to take advantage of holiday sales, stunting YoY growth.
2019 vs 2020 conversion trends are as follows:
- From January 1 to October 31, 2020, we observed a 59% increase in purchases.
- From October 1 to November 2020 (prior to Thanksgiving), we saw a 24% increase in purchases.
- During the Cyber Five in 2020, we only witnessed a 2% increase in purchases.
That being said, spending during both years still peaked during the holiday season. However, on Black Friday specifically, spending dropped globally by 3% and on Cyber Monday by 9% in 2020.
Average eCommerce purchases conducted globally in 2019 and 2020
Despite purchase trends showing minimal positive change year-over-year, average order values (AOVs) managed to rise by 35% globally during the Cyber Five. AOVs rose significantly during this five-day span for the following sub-industries:
- Beauty & personal care: +83%
- Multi-brand retail: +82%
- Home & furniture: +41%
- Luxury & jewelry: +35%
- Fashion & apparel: +34%
The holiday weekend is less relevant in Europe
Our global analysis of holiday shopping uncovered another interesting finding: Europe participated in Black Friday and Cyber Monday at a far lesser rate than other regions.
- In EMEA, Black Friday conversions dropped by 34% this year.
- Cyber Monday purchases dropped by 17% in Europe as well.
In APAC, we witnessed a stark contrast between Black Friday and Cyber Monday spending:
- Black Friday purchases increased by 39% in 2020 YoY.
- Cyber Monday is less of an event in the region, resulting in a modest 16% increase in purchases vs. 2019.
More time at home results in less mobile activity during BFCM
Users continue to further acclimate to mobile shopping thanks to increased investments in push notifications and mobile experiences, support of one-step checkout and express mobile payment integrations like Apple Pay and Google Pay, and increased smartphone adoption globally. The direct result of these investments has been an increase in mobile conversions over much of the past year.
But we see a different picture when digging deeper into the data over the holiday shopping period. We can see a steady YoY increase in mobile conversions between January and October, with a year high in late April following the onset of COVID-19. And as time inched closer to the holidays, we witnessed a significant drop globally in mobile purchases:
- A week before Black Friday 2020, mobile conversions dropped by 21% YoY.
- On Black Friday 2020, mobile conversions dropped by 28% YoY.
- On Cyber Monday 2020, mobile conversions dropped by 55% YoY.
Comparison of purchases conducted on mobile devices in 2019 and 2020
With more consumers spending time at home, it’s likely this drop-off is the result of more desktop device usage during the holiday weekend. In the Americas, this is especially true, where we saw notable increases in desktop usage in both October and November 2020.
Our eCommerce benchmarks tool shows Desktop usage spiked in the Americas in the months leading up to the 2020 holiday season, a trend that is consistent globally.
The beauty glow
Despite minimal spikes in conversions globally during the holiday weekend, particular sub-industries still witnessed massive uplifts in traffic and revenue this year. Beauty and personal care brands saw the largest rate of change in conversions YoY during the Cyber Five, resulting in a 139% increase in average purchases, despite minimal YoY conversion trend variance preceding the holidays.
Other industries positively or negatively impacted during the 2020 Cyber Five are as follows:
- Food and beverage brands witnessed a 78% increase in conversions.
- Consumer goods saw a 31% increase in conversions.
- Home and furniture experienced a 19% increase in conversions.
- Luxury and jewelry brands remained roughly the same YoY, with a 1% decrease in conversions.
- Fashion and apparel brands, who generated sizable revenue in both 2019 and 2020, saw a 6% decrease in purchases globally during the holiday period this year.
- Multi-brand retailers were the most dramatically impacted sub-vertical, experiencing a 46% decrease in conversions this year.
Tracking the year-over-year rate of change for sub-industry purchases
Holiday shopping has changed as we know it
For decades, major purchases and holiday shopping has been heavily concentrated around Black Friday and Cyber Monday, a period where consumers have been able to capitalize on major sales and discounts. Now, as the world continues to face and adapt to changes brought on by COVID-19, consumer behavior has shifted – potentially for the long-term. We hope this analysis sheds some light on the initial changes in behavior eCommerce is witnessing, helping you strategically think about your organization’s marketing plans and better prepare for the coming months and 2021 holiday season.