The 2013 holiday season had plenty of headlines in the run up to Christmas. Black Friday brought out record numbers of shoppers, though in-store sales figures were somewhat flat. Cyber Monday broke sales records and ecommerce got so hot that UPS and FedEx were unable to meet their delivery deadlines (though inclement weather played a role in the delay). Now that the dust has settled and marketers have time to run numbers, it’s time to look back and see how retailers did.
Though the data is still trickling in, initial reports on the 2013 holiday season indicate that sales across the board were higher. However, the biggest gains were seen by ecommerce retailers. According to comScore’s research, online sales increased by 10% in 2013, even though comScore removed one of the weeks from the calculation this year because of the late Thanksgiving.
ComScore also ranked the 10 holiday shopping days with the highest online sales. Cyber Monday (Dec. 2) took the lead with a record-breaking $1.735 billion in online spending, followed by Tuesday, Dec. 3 ($1.410 billion) and Green Monday, Dec. 9th, with $1.401 billion. The 2013 holiday season saw 10 days with more than $1 billion spending, but down from last year’s total of 12 individual days, however, this is due to the compressed calendar between Thanksgiving and Christmas that featured six fewer days of online shopping (but the first Thanksgivingkah in memory).
Mobile devices also had an impressive showing. According to IBM, mobile devices fueled a 16.5 percent increase in Christmas Day sales. On Christmas, 29 percent of all ecommerce traffic came from mobile devices, which is a 40 percent increase from the previous year. The IBM figures also gave credit to iOS users, whose average amount spent was twice the amount of Android users. They report also highlighted the effect of Facebook and Pinterest marketing efforts.
“Shoppers referred from Facebook averaged $72.01 per order, versus Pinterest referrals, which drove $86.83 per order. However, Facebook referrals converted sales at nearly four times the rate of Pinterest referrals, perhaps indicating stronger confidence in network recommendations,” IBM said.
Other agencies has examined the Christmas season sales data in different ways but their conclusions were are all equally positive. The National Retail Federation estimated that ecommerce sales would account for about 14 percent of all sales, a huge bump from the 6 percent of sales that usually come from online sales. IBM reported that on the last shopping weekend before Christmas, online sales were 37 percent higher than the same time last year.
“The success of online retail over Christmas 2013 proves that ecommerce can only go from strength to strength,” said Guy Mucklow of Postcode Anywhere. “After several years of tough recession, dwindling high street footfall and steadily declining sales, it’s great to see that the industry is finally on the up. Consumer confidence is returning and sales are once again beginning to increase.”
The news of strong Christmas sales is a joyful occasion for retailers. Their exuberance is understandable and it’s bolstered by data that indicates that 2014 will be even better economically than 2013. Factors like an improving job market, increased construction, and stabilized government budgets will increase the amount of money people have to spend. Retailers should start preparing their websites and planning their marketing efforts to ensure they are ready to capitalizes on a growing market in 2014.