Thanksgiving Day online sales just miss the $2B mark

There was $1.93 billion spent online, with 40 percent coming from a mobile device

Financial trends and news by Steven Loeb
November 25, 2016
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Every year it seems like more people are coming to the realization that they don't need to nearly get trampled, while punching their fellow shoppers in the face, just to get the best, early holiday deals. They can get what they want without even needing to leave the house. It's warmer, easier and it means there's a much smaller change of them getting hurt. 

Thanksgiving online sales jumped another 11.5 percent this year, according to data from Adobe, just missing a big milestone, reaching $1.93 billion. I guess we'll just have to wait one more year for the big "$2 billion for the first time" headlines, but they are definitely coming.

It should be noted that growth of online sales on the holiday has been slowing in the last few years. While 2014 saw growth of 32 percent, with sales topping $1 billion for the first time, and 2015 had growth of 25 percent, that number was more than cut in half this year. 

Also of note is that the mobile share of visits didn't move at all, remaining at the same 57 percent as last year, though mobile share of sales did increase slightly, from 37 percent to 40 percent, representing growth of 8 percent.

Meanwhile, the number of visits and sales on phones increased year-to-year, while tablets saw a decline.

Smartphone share of visits as 47 percent this year, up from 43 percent last year, while sales were 27 percent, up from 22 percent in 2015. At the same time, Tablets saw 11 percent of visits, down from 14 percent, while sales were 13 percent, down from 15 percent. The people have made their choice about which device they want to shop on, and smartphones have won, hands down.

Desktop computer lagged slightly behind smartphones in visits, with 43 percent, but absolutely cleaned up with share of sales, representing 60 percent of all online purchases on Thanksgiving Day. Desktop also had the best conversion rate, 4.4 percent, compared to 3.8 percent on tablets and 1.9 percent on smartphones. 

To me, this is totally understandable; not only is it easier to put your credit card information onto a desktop computer, but the screen is big enough for you to get a good look at what you're ordering. 

Adobe also broke down where people were finding the best deals, and it's definitely not social media, which had only had a 1.1 percent referral share, the same rate as last year. For some reason retailers are seemingly unable to generate sales through social media.

Instead most people are finding deals either by searching for them, which accounted for over a third, 36.4 percent, of referrals. Direct sales accounted for 24.9 percent; email had 18.4 percent; and shopper helper sites had 17. 7 percent. 

Like social media, display ads proven ineffective, with only 1.6 percent of referral traffic.  

With Thanksgiving Day nearing $2 billion, it will be fascinating to see if Black Friday and Cyber Monday will also come close to, or even surpass, new records.