The continued rise in online shopping has had a tremendous impact on the traditional holiday shopping cycle. As the National Retail Federation reported Sunday afternoon, overall sales and shopping traffic from Thanksgiving weekend noticeably decreased from 2013, a trend that NRF President and CEO Matthew Shay attributes to “a strengthening economy that changes consumers’ reliance on deep discounts, a highly competitive environment, early promotions and the ability to shop 24/7 online.” The statistics clearly illustrate this consumer migration to online vs. in-store shopping, with online sales increasing by 32% on Thanksgiving day and 26% on Black Friday. Cyber Monday, famous primarily for online shopping, has also seen an 8.1% increase in online sales over 2013 as well.
Perhaps more interestingly, this shift to online shopping has fundamentally disrupted the cycle of Thanksgiving weekend shopping. As Business Insider explains, Black Friday first came into being because so many Americans were able to shop on their vacation day after Thanksgiving. Now, with the advent of online shopping, designating this Friday as the national holiday for shopping has become “pretty arbitrary.” Because online shopping sales on Black Friday are growing at a faster rate than Cyber Monday, Adobe Systems forecasts that next year Black Friday will surpass Cyber Monday as the top grossing day for online retail sales in the US (see graph below).
Because shopping is shifting so heavily to online, and online shoppers are not bound by time or space, online retailers should expect a steady trickle of sales throughout the rest of the holiday season. This makes it all the more important for site owners to look closely at their data from the past weekend and optimize their website for conversions in the coming month. Among the data available, site owners should pay special attention to what users searched for on their site, especially those queries that returned no results. From there, the results for these dead end queries should be customized so users always find the products they are looking for.