Thanksgiving Leftovers: Online Sales And Email Volume Peaked Prior To The Holiday Itself

The Thanksgiving feast came early this year for retail brands using email to drive sales. That’s because the cooking was already done.

B2C marketers sent 3.6% more emails on Thanksgiving YoY -- below expectations -- and 6% fewer on Black Friday, according to Pandemic Driven Early Holiday Promotions Cannibalize Email Marketing And Sales On Thanksgiving And Black Friday, a report posted by Oracle CX Marketing Consulting on Monday.

Instead, they loaded up their email in the earlier weeks in November and offered discounts prior to Thanksgiving and Black Friday. 

And judging by the results, the COVID-19 pandemic has changed the dynamic for both brands and consumers. 

Unique email opens dropped by 7% on Thanksgiving compared with the prior year. And revenue per email plummeted by 29%, writes Chad White, the head of research at Oracle CX Marketing Consulting. 

On Black Friday, unique opens decreased by10% and revenue per email by 9%. Were Thanksgiving sales “cannibalized,” as these stats seem to suggest?



Yes -- demand “softened as big pre-Thanksgiving promotions stole the thunder of Black Friday,” states Clint Kaiser, head of analytic & strategic services at Oracle CX Marketing Consulting.

This may be a good thing because “early revenue is safer revenue” due to the pandemic, Kaiser adds. 

What’s more, “consumers appeared to actively avoid anything that even seemed like an in-store promotion,” the Oracle post continues.  

The post cites findings from Adobe Analytics showing “a significant deceleration in online sales.” 

Yes, online sales grew by 22% on those days, hitting $5.1 billion on Thanksgiving Day and $9 billion on Black Friday. But those figures were outpaced by 46% overall growth during the third quarter. 

At the same time, email opt-in rates more than tripled in the two weeks prior to Thanksgiving Week. And unsubscribe rates fell. 

Meanwhile, fearful of the pandemic, shoppers stayed home on both days. Thanksgiving store visits declined by 94.9% compared with those in 2019, and Black Friday visits by 52.1%, White writes, sourcing data from Sensormatic Solutions. 

The big email incentives were steep discounts and curbside pickup services.

Will these trends continue after COVID-19 is conquered? It's hard to say — we still have to get through Christmas.  


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