2019 Thanksgiving e-commerce sales show 14% rise on 2018, $470M spent so far

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With popular social networks seeing some downtime, most shops closed, and many people off work today for Thanksgiving, bargain hunters are flocking online to start their holiday shopping.

Adobe says that as of 5pm Pacific time, $2.1 billion had been spent online for the day, up 20.2% on the same period a year ago. About 46.4% of all online purchases been made on smartphones, up nearly 13 percentage points on 2018’s 33.5%. Smartphone browsing is also up: 63.4% of visits coming from smartphones compared to 56.6% for the month, Adobe said.

That shows that as the day went on, sales accelerated. Prior to that, at 10am Adobe said $470 million had been spent online, a rise of 14.5% compared to sales figures from the same time last year. Overall, Adobe said that sales are largely on track to hit its prediction of $4.4 billion in total sales for Thanksgiving day.

Over at Shopify, the e-commerce backend provider has been running real-time visualizations tracking sales. At its peak, at 3:05PM Eastern time, it was seeing $671,000 in sales each minute. Its final numbers for Thanksgiving note that its merchants made $442 million on the day from some 5.3 million consumers making purchases. All told, sales were up by a 62% on a year ago.

Within that, Shopify’s figures are largely similar to those of Adobe’s. It noted that some 69% of all sales were being made on mobile devices, with apparel and accessories the most popular category, and New York the top-selling city. Average cart price crept up as the day went on and ended at $81.12 globally, with the figure closer to $82 in the US itself.

Adobe Analytics tracks sales in real-time for 80 of the top 100 US retailers, covering 55 million SKUs and some 1 trillion transactions during the holiday sales period. Shopify, meanwhile, uses data from across the range of online retailers that use Shopify APIs to run their sales.

Black Friday (the day after Thanksgiving) used to be seen as the traditional start to holiday sales, but consumers spending time at home on Thanksgiving itself are increasingly coming online — on a day when most brick-and-mortar stores are closed — to get the ball rolling.

This year, Thanksgiving is coming a week later this year than in 2018 (when it fell on the 22nd of the month), which will make for a more compressed, and potentially more frenzied, selling period.

As Sarah pointed out yesterday, many retailers this year made an early jump on their Black Friday deals, and so far some $53 billion has been spent in the month of November up to today. This year’s holiday sales overall are predicted to hit nearly $144 billion.

We’ll be updating this post with more figures as they come in, and we’ll be tracking Black Friday sales in a separate post.

As a point of comparison, in 2018, online sales hit $3.7 billion, according to Adobe’s analysis.

Adobe notes that in the $53 billion spent so far this month, all 27 days in November have surpassed $1 billion in sales. Eight days passed $2 billion, and yesterday saw $2.9 billion in sales. That was up 22% on a year ago, which either points to increased sales overall, or simply that the strategy of extending “holiday” shopping to start earlier and earlier is paying off for retailers.

Another interesting insight is that some $18.2B in purchases have been made by smartphones this month, which is up 49.5% compared to last year.

“The strong online sales performance to-date suggests that holiday shopping starts much earlier than ever before. Steep discounts on popular items like computers on the day before Thanksgiving indicate that many of the season’s best deals are already up for grabs. This has led to significant growth in online sales (16.1% YoY increase) so far. What will be important for retailers to track is whether the early discounts will drive continued retail growth overall, or if they have induced consumers to spend their holiday budgets earlier,” noted Jason Woosley, vice president of commerce product & platform at Adobe.

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