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Cyber Monday Beats Black Friday as Best Day for Digital Discounts—By Razor-Thin Margin

Cyber Monday’s digital sales are projected to reach $30 billion globally and $8 billion in the U.S., according to Salesforce.

Those projections represent a 12 percent year-over-year growth for online sales worldwide, from $26 billion last year, and a 15 percent gain for U.S. sales over 2018’s $7 billion haul, said the predictive data analytics firm, which tracked more than half a billion global shoppers through both online buying activity and public social media conversations across more than two dozen countries.

While Black Friday shoppers scored big digital deals at an average order discount of 28 percent, Salesforce research indicates that Cyber Monday is still the best opportunity to score digital discounts, which average 29 percent.

Technology is taking a greater role in driving online sales, Salesforce said, pointing to the 9 percent of Thanksgiving Day digital orders stemming from artificial intelligence-powered product recommendations.

And the real winner over Cyber Weekend–many brands and retailers offered cyber discounts on Saturday and rolled out their Cyber Monday specials on Sunday–has been mobile, which Salesforce said handled 76 percent of all digital traffic.

Mobile buying reached a peak of 60 percent on Thanksgiving Day, aided by social media-influenced shopping. Salesforce said 10 percent of all mobile traffic came from a social-referring channel on Wednesday and Thursday, while 7 percent of all digital orders were sourced by a social referral.

Salesforce expects retailers to make up for the shortened holiday shopping season with special product drops, creative collaborations and limited inventory promotions. It also believes that 50 percent of the season’s digital revenues will be completed the Friday after Cyber Week, the same day as last year.

And if digital is now the go-to place to shop, then brick-and-mortar locations became digital’s VIP, Salesforce said. While buying online and picking up in stores saves customers on shipping and returns, it also lets them shop well past the holiday shipping cutoff.

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Tom McGee, president and CEO of ICSC, the membership trade organization for retail and real estate professionals, believes the top-performing retailers will be those connecting with consumers through their physical stores and digital channels.

“Retailers view Black Friday and Cyber Monday as mutually reinforcing events, leveraging their omnichannel assets to deliver value and experience,” McGee said. “Holiday shoppers want convenience, attractive deals and festivity; omnichannel is the most effective way for retailers to check all three boxes.”

According to ICSC, 77 percent of all consumers and 86 percent of millennials expressed plans to shop on Cyber Monday. Discount department store retailers were the most popular destinations for shoppers over the Thanksgiving weekend, with consumers visiting an average of 12 stores over the four-day period.

Separately, Adobe Analytics predicts U.S. holiday spend from Nov. 1 through Dec. 31 to come in at $143.8 billion, up from $126 billion last year, with spending to top $9.4 billion on Cyber Monday alone, an 18.9 percent increase from 2018.

The evening time span between 7 p.m. and 11 p.m. PT are the most profitable hours of the year, with almost 30 percent of Cyber Monday’s revenue concentrating during that time, said Abode, whose data stems from more than 1 trillion visits to more than 4,500 retail sites. Conversion during this timeframe nearly doubles as consumers shop to avoid missing out on the day’s deals.

According to Adobe, Cyber Week is expected to account for 20 percent of total holiday season revenue in the U.S., while smartphone shopping will be responsible for almost 50 percent of retail holiday growth. In a reversal of past behavior, consumers are now using their bigger screens, like desktop PCs and laptops, for research. But there are signs that mobile shopper recognize the limitations of their small screens. Apparel products purchased on a smartphone tend to be 21 percent cheaper than same-category buys on a desktop, indicating shoppers’ greater confidence when viewing these kinds of items and product details on a larger device.

Adobe expects consumers’ mobile-happy holiday behavior to spill over from Thanksgiving into the Dec. 25, projecting that on “Christmas Day, consumers will purchase more from their phones than desktops, for the first time ever.”