As experts noodle the numbers from the kickoff to the holiday weekend, bigger trends are emerging: According to Comscore, it’s becoming clearer the convenience of shopping via mobile devices is rewriting the retail calendar.
“It was surprising to us just how powerfully spending was pulled ahead of Cyber Monday,” says Ian Essling, director of survey innovation at Comscore. “There was more spending on Thanksgiving, and just seeing how aggressive shoppers were is a big change.”
Mobile was a key component of shopping on Turkey Day, he tells Marketing Daily. “People aren’t likely to use laptops or desktops right after dinner, but you can pull out your phone and shop so easily, anywhere.”
In fact, 40% of sales came from mobile on Thanksgiving, higher than on Black Friday or Cyber Monday.
What’s not clear is how retailers are going to adapt the deals they offer as timing becomes increasingly fluid, he says. “Four or five years ago, you could hang your hat on Cyber Monday. Now, retail is going to have to adapt or be very aggressive. ”
Consumers swarmed to deals, with Thanksgiving, Black Friday and Cyber Monday all posting digital spending gains of 28% or higher. Cyber Monday reached record sales of $6 billion.
Free shipping, offered on 81% of all transactions and 90% of desktop buys, is becoming more vital; Comscore says 58% of U.S. consumers say it’s the most important factor.
Considering the strength of this year’s “Big Three” days, Comscore thinks the digital holiday season is likely to finish at the high end of its forecast of between 18% and 19% of the year’s total.
But as retailers experiment with shifting promotions around the holiday calendar, Comscore predicts consumers’ love of large-screen cellphones may lead to brand new “big” days: “We may even see entirely new days emerge as pivotal spending milestones — for example, the weekend between Black Friday and Cyber Monday may take on a significantly larger role in the future,” its report says.
And Comscore is keeping a sharp eye on smart speakers, which may emerge as the next device people use to shop. “Right now, there’s no visual feedback, which limits how comfortable some people feel using them for purchases. But as these add screens, these may play a much bigger role.”