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1. Total holiday sales volume keeps increasing

Up 2.9% compared to 2017, US holiday retail sales in 2018 totalled $707.5 billion, excluding automobile dealers, gasoline stations, and restaurants. That figure includes $146.8 billion in online and other non-store sales, which grew by 11.5%.1

US Holiday Season Retail Sales Growth (NRF)

Not only are sales increasing, but you can expect more days to post higher order volumes. In 2017, there were 15 days when sales surpassed $2 billion; in 2018, 26 days topped that mark.

Takeaway for 2019

Expect your systems and store associates to experience greater daily pressure over longer periods.  

2. Online sales continue to grow at a strong pace 

According to Adobe, sales from e‑commerce reached $126 billion in 2018, a 16.5% increase compared to 2017. This sector has posted consistent double-digit growth for the last three years.2 (Note: Although sources account for sales differently, they agree on the overall trends.)

US Holiday Season Online Retail Revenue

Given consumer concern about deliveries arriving on time, it’s not surprising that, according to Salesforce, 50% of e-commerce sales were completed by Monday, December 3.3

The biggest shopping day of the year was the same as in 2017—Cyber Monday (the Monday after Thanksgiving). A record $7.9 billion in sales were made. Cyber Week (the days preceding and following Cyber Monday) accounted for a 37% share of the season’s sales.3

Takeaway for 2019

Based on the three-year trend,2 you should optimize your site for a probable double-digit increase in online transactions. You should also make all your inventory available for online sale, including inventory in your stores.

3.  Mobile shopping overtook the desktop for the first time

According to Salesforce, almost half of all orders (48%) were sent from mobile devices, while desktop and laptop computers accounted for only 44%. Two-thirds (66%) of all e‑commerce traffic was initiated by mobile devices.3

Takeaway for 2019

Your customers’ mobile shopping experience, whether it’s on a website or an app, should be smooth and convenient.

4.  For physical stores, Black Friday remains a big event

Black Friday (the Friday after Thanksgiving) is still the sales summit for one-day in-store shopping during the holiday season. Talk of Black Friday’s decline is unfounded. According to ShopperTrak, which analyzed eight years of holiday foot traffic, the data has been stable.3

“One thing that you hear about all the time is that it really isn’t Black Friday or Black Friday week anymore, it’s now maybe even Black November. What you can see from the data, especially as you head into Thanksgiving, is that there has been no disruption. There has been no change in shopper patterns.”

— Brian Field, Senior Director, Retail Consulting Practice, ShopperTrak

The second-busiest in-store shopping day is the Saturday preceding Christmas, known as Super Saturday.

In-store traffic had eight of its 10 busiest days after December 3, accounting for 40% of traffic. Unlike online consumers, in-store shoppers don’t have to worry about shipping deadlines, so they can take more time with their purchases.

Takeaway for 2019

Major spikes in both online and in-store traffic occur at the beginning and tail end of the holiday season. Ensure that your systems and store associates are prepared to handle these periods.

5. Omnichannel retailers reap bigger rewards

It’s important to note that omnichannel shoppers not only spend more but are also more loyal than single-channel customers. In a study of 46,000 retail customers over a 14‑month period, researchers found that omnichannel shoppers4 

  • made up 73% of the sample,
  • visited that retailer’s stores 23% more often within six months, and
  • were more likely to be advocates for the brand.

Holiday sales attributable to omnichannel shoppers using a buy online/pick up in‑store (BOPIS) option rose by 50% compared to 2017.2

Yet retailers were not taking advantage of the upselling and cross-selling opportunities presented by shoppers coming into the store. According to Salesforce, the average number of in‑store purchases was 2.7 items valued at $42, while the BOPIS shopping bag averaged 1.9 items worth $38.3

Takeaway for 2019

It pays to have a unified shopping experience across all your channels. Moreover, offering convenient pickup options addresses customer needs and creates opportunities for boosting the total value of purchases.

With these trends and takeaways in mind, let’s take a look at a roadmap for getting the most out of the holiday season in 2019 and how an omnichannel order fulfillment platform can unlock new opportunities for growth and delightful customer experiences.

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  1. National Retail Foundation. (February 14, 2019). 2018 holiday sales grew 2.9 percent amid turmoil over trade policy and delay in data collection. Retrieved from https://nrf.com/media-center/press-releases/2018-holiday-sales-grew-29-percent-amid-turmoil-over-trade-policy-and
  2. Abramovich, G. (January 15, 2019). 5 Holiday Online Shopping Trends To Guide Your 2019 Strategy. Retrieved from https://www.cmo.com/adobe-digital-insights/articles/2019/1/8/5-holiday-online-shopping-trends-to-guide-your-2019-strategy.html#gs.ubz00v
  3. Wassel, B. (January 28, 2019). Holiday Wrap-Up: Mobile Dominates E-Commerce, Driving 66% Of Traffic. Retrieved from https://www.retailtouchpoints.com/topics/omnichannel-cross-channel-strategies/holiday-wrap-up-mobile-dominates-ecommerce-driving-66-of-traffic
  4. Sopadjieva, E., et al. (January 3, 2017). A Study of 46,000 Shoppers Shows That Omnichannel Retailing Works. Retrieved from https://hbr.org/2017/01/a-study-of-46000-shoppers-shows-that-omnichannel-retailing-works