Cyber Monday broke records, thanks to late-night binge shopping, according to Adobe Analytics.
At one point, it looked like the tally would come in just shy of Adobe’s projection, but consumers flocked to their devices through the wee hours, tapping their way to deals between 10 p.m. and 2 a.m. ET and giving e-tailers as much as $2.9 billion in online sales. The late-night frenzy sealed the deal on Adobe’s $9.4 billion estimate, ultimately hitting the online sales figure.
One might quibble if the specific hours amount to a slight fudging of the timeframe — i.e., whether sales after midnight on the East Coast still technically fall into Cyber Monday — but the numbers themselves are hard to argue against.
Those night owls weren’t just overactive. They also apparently had a penchant for high-ticket items. Average shopping cart values at checkout ballooned 6 percent over last year, according to Adobe’s report. And between 11 p.m. and 12 a.m. ET, shoppers were buying at a rate of $12 million per minute.
The firm said that the final tally represented a growth of 19.7 percent, making it the biggest online shopping day ever in the U.S. The figure easily trounces Black Friday’s $5.4 billion in online sales — which itself set a record and beat Black Friday 2018 by 22.3 percent — and blew away last year’s Cyber Monday record of $7.9 billion.
Gadgets drove much of the sales momentum, in more ways than one.
“Cyber Monday sales surged late last night as consumers established new records both in overall purchases and purchases made via smartphones,” said Taylor Schreiner, principal analyst and head of Adobe Digital Insights.
Mobile commerce secured its place as a major force in holiday web shopping with smartphones delivering $3.1 billion, or nearly a third of Monday’s total sales. The figure marked the highest year-over-year dollar growth for sales via these devices.
Since the start of November, Adobe recorded $81.5 billion in spending, for growth of 14 percent growth over last year’s $71.5 billion. That moves the needle more than halfway to its $143.8 billion forecast for the whole season.
The intensity reverberated throughout retail and tech platforms, which raced to capture the opportunity.
Shopify reported that its merchants raked in $2.9 billion across more than 175 countries. In the final count, smartphones loomed large here, with 69 percent of sales coming from mobile devices.
Amazon didn’t publish specifics, but said that Cyber Monday was the single biggest shopping day in the company’s history, based on number of items ordered worldwide. That’s not just true of Amazon’s business in general, but specifically for its Amazon Fashion business as well.
Electronics and Amazon house gadgets, such as Echo and Fire devices, usually lead the pack. This year, apparel made its mark, with bestsellers including Carhartt men’s acrylic watch hat and Champion men’s powerblend fleece pullover hoodie.
That’s not to say that Black Friday weekend and Cyber Monday was completely smooth sailing for e-tailers.
Amazon’s holiday kick-off was dogged by activists protesting the company’s treatment of warehouse workers, its tech powering Immigration and Customs Enforcement detention and deportation systems and alleged surveillance in homes and neighborhoods.
Costco’s web site and app crashed for 16 hours on Thursday night, amounting to a potential loss of up to $11 million in revenue. Meanwhile, a glitch at Foreo listed $279 UFO smart masking devices for $9.90 on Black Friday. (The Swedish skintech brand published a statement on Tuesday promising to honor those sales, totally 38,575 devices and valued at more than $10 million in losses.)
But even horror stories like these didn’t stop the advance of online shopping.
Overall across all channels, according to a survey by the National Retail Federation and Prosper Insights & Analytics, a record 189.6 million Americans shopped between Thanksgiving and Cyber Monday, besting last year’s 165.8 million by 14 percent.
On average, holiday shoppers spent $361.90 over the five-day period, for a 16 percent gain over $313.29 spent last year. Seventy-one percent bought gifts, and 25- to 34-year-olds were the biggest spenders at $440.46, closely followed by 35- to 44-year-olds at $439.72.
If young adult consumers, who are more comfortable with e-commerce, are larger purchasers, that could explain why 142.2 million shopped on retailers’ web sites, while only 124 million people shopped in stores.
Note the overlap. NRF attributes that to people hitting both online and physical locations, with 75.7 million doing both. The retail group sees it as a sign of increasingly seamless shopping.
So-called “multichannel” consumers spent an average of $366.79, or at least 25 percent more than those who shopped just one channel.
The numbers suggest that retailers who unite their digital and physical services stand the most to gain. Adobe’s Schreiner said, “Companies offering fast fulfillment options like free one-day shipping or buy-online-pickup-in-store (BOPIS) will be well positioned to help consumers purchase what they want in the few weeks left before Christmas.”
Those weeks will matter more this year than perhaps any other. And at least so far, the condensed holiday period — which is six days shorter than usual — seems to have lit a fire under shoppers.
“Consumers are feeling the pressure to get their shopping done in time,” said NRF president and chief executive officer Matthew Shay. “Even those who typically wait until the last minute to purchase gifts turned out in record numbers all weekend long.”