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Three surprises from Cyber Week 2022

christmas holiday shopping cart
Cyber Week results ran contrary to some predictions.

Cyber Week defied expectations in ways that should make many retailers happy.

Another Cyber Week has gone by. Appropriately for an event associated with the holidays, it brought some surprises. Fortunately, these surprises were more of the stocking stuffer, rather than the coal, variety. Here are three significant ones.

Consumers put the ‘cyber’ in ‘Cyber Week’

As predicted, in-store shopping rose significantly during Cyber Week. According to data from the National Retail Federation (NRF), more than 122.7 million people visited brick-and-mortar stores over the five-day period, up 17% from 2021. 

However, e-commerce sales performed much stronger than many analysts had been expecting during Cyber Week. Adobe Analytics data shows that the entire five-day period brought in $35.27 billion overall, up 4% YoY. Cyber Week results were bolstered by record online spending during Black Friday ($9.12 billion, up 2.3% YoY) and Thanksgiving ($5.29 billion, up 2.9% YoY).  

Even more impressively, Adobe Analytics data reveals that consumers spent a total of $11.3 billion on Cyber Monday, representing 5.8% growth year-over-year (YoY) from $10.7 billion and making it the biggest online shopping day of all time. 2022 also marked a return to YoY growth in Cyber Monday spending, which slightly dipped between 2020 and 2021.

Online discounts beat inflation

Inflation has been casting a shadow over retail for more than a year, and caused some observers to make pessimistic predictions about this year’s holiday season. But deep discounting, partially driven by retailers’ need to clear excess inventory, convinced inflation-weary consumers to splurge online during Cyber Week.

Salesforce analysis showed that average discount rates spiked during Cyber Week, topping pre-pandemic levels at and 30% in the U.S. Strong customer response to Cyber Week price cuts confirmed previous Salesforce predictions that consumers were delaying holiday purchases in a game of “discount chicken” with online retailers, assuming the best deals would come during Cyber Week.

In addition, recent data from Ware2Go, a UPS company, shows that about half of consumers can be enticed to make online holiday purchases via incentives such as deal days, coupons or promotions on online products

Add in the fact that many retailers, including top performers like Amazon, Walmart and Target, kicked off their holiday promotions as early as October, and it seems this holiday season will be remembered for discounts driving sales, rather than inflation curbing them.

Mobile commerce comes of age

Adobe Analytics data also shows that mobile shopping remained strong throughout this year’s Cyber Week, driving the majority of sales at 51% for the first time (up from 46% in 2021). Salesforce data was even more emphatic about the primacy of mobile devices, indicating 76% of Cyber Week e-commerce traffic was mobile.

We may look back at the 2022 holiday season as the watershed moment when the ubiquity of consumer smartphones finally translated to mobile becoming the standard platform for digital commerce.

It also may mark a turning point for retailers providing a targeted, app-based mobile customer experience that goes beyond simply mobile-formatting a desktop site. Anecdotally, I have covered a number of retailers that revamped or launched entirely new mobile consumer apps in the weeks leading up to Cyber Week. Examples include True Religion, Etsy, ShopRunner, At Home, and Hollister.

A perfect holiday storm of consumers ready to shop via mobile and a plethora of modern retail shopping apps appears to be brewing. Fortunately, navigating the weather only requires properly aligned back-end systems, and not Rudolph’s shiny nose!

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