Thanksgiving weekend proved to be a blockbuster event for online retailers as consumers moved online to complete their holiday shopping rather than going in-store. Traditionally, Black Friday has been the biggest brick-and-mortar shopping day of the year in the US, characterized by massive in-store crowds and headaches for retailers struggling to keep inventory and staffing sufficient enough to accommodate the increase in foot traffic. However, e-commerce has provided consumers with more options than ever, encouraging them to stay home and complete holiday shopping online, as evidenced by the monumental growth in online sales on Black Friday alone.

Meanwhile, an eagerness among online merchants to capitalize on this shift in consumer behavior is leading many to push promotions early in order to capture higher sales growth. Providing consumers with access to deals over longer periods of time removes the need for them to complete much of their holiday shopping in a tight time frame, and this has begun to spread the impact of individual sales days like Black Friday and Cyber Monday over a wider span. Looking ahead, retailers should plan holiday strategies that run longer, which will better enable them to leverage shoppers' tendency to move online where they have more options than in physical locations.

bii thanksgiving weekend online salesBI Intelligence

Thanksgiving Day

Online sales grew on Thanksgiving Day, but growth was down significantly from years past, according to Adobe Digital Insights. With pushed up promotions from retailers that increased the holiday shopping window, consumers may have felt less pressure to step away from the dinner table to shop. 

  • Online spending growth slowed down: Total online sales reached $1.93 billion on Thanksgiving Day, marking nearly 12% year-over-year (YoY) growth. However, this is down from 25% YoY growth on Thanksgiving Day 2015.
  • Mobile is slowly increasing its share: Mobile accounted for 40% of all online orders on Thanksgiving Day, compared with 37% last year.

Retailers pushed promotions far earlier this year than ever before. Amazon launched its Black Friday Deals Store on November 1, weeks before the biggest [...]