What the 2014 Holiday Shopping Numbers Confirm about Today’s Consumer – And Why Mobile Demands Full Attention in 2015

Over the past week, dozens of headlines reported the slowdown of Black Friday, while others showed the trend moving in the opposite direction. The chasm between this season’s reports may leave some of us scratching our heads, but there is broad consensus on one point: consumers’ shopping patterns are evolving quickly, and with them, the marketing opportunities and tactics of successful retailers.

TellApart is in the privileged position to be able to look into our data from more than 200 million shoppers buying from leading retailers like Neiman Marcus, One Kings Lane and Warby Parker to better understand what’s really driving purchases. With the lens of the kickoff of the 2014 holiday shopping season, our data confirms much of what has been reported, as well as important patterns that have been emerging, such as:

    • Shopping goes surprisingly well with turkey.
      Call it what you will – Grey Thursday, Thanksgiving, or anything else – but this year people started shopping right after their feasts (or maybe even during). Across our audience, we saw a significant uptick buying year over year, with Thanksgiving Day sales up an impressive 36 percent.

 

 

    • The days before and after Black Friday are busier than ever.
      With the majority of the focus on a few key days it is important to note that the week prior to Thanksgiving and the weekend after Black Friday saw as much as 19 percent more online sales day over day than last year.

 

    • Mobile purchasing is happening – and it’s happening faster than many expected.
      There is no question that mobile devices (phones and tablets) played a major role this holiday shopping season. Putting headlines aside, it is important to remember that the vast majority of sales still happen on desktops, followed by tablets and then phones. That being said, the percent of mobile sales increased by over 35% year over year. And the growth of buying on phones has *doubled* since 2013.

 

So, what can retailers take away from these numbers? The common understanding shared in the industry that shopping patterns of consumers continue to evolve is clearer than ever. Also confirmed is that the holiday shopping season has become a marathon, not a sprint. Black Friday and Cyber Monday still matter, but they belong to a longer, and more distributed shopping season. Retailers need to approach their shoppers with this fact in mind, and meet them when and where they are ready to shop.

Perhaps most importantly – and for some, a lesson to take action on in 2015 – retailers must embrace mobile shoppers and implement strategies to understand and engage with them more wholeheartedly than ever before. Our data clearly shows that a retailer’s most engaged, highest-value buyers don’t shop on a single device. The cross-device shopper is more than three times as likely to buy — i.e. the shopper who accesses a retailer’s site via desktop as well as on a mobile device as compared to a single-device shopper. That’s a number no one should ignore, any day of the year. When you look ahead to Cyber Monday 2015 — if you have under invested mobile, it will have caught up with you.