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Shorter Season Could Strip $1 Billion from Online Holiday Retail Revenue

Adobe Analytics predicts record-high online sales this holiday, but a shorter season overall will shave off about $1 billion in potential revenue, the company said in a new report.

Online consumer spending is set to reach an all-time high of $143.7 billion from November to December, a growth rate of 14.1 percent compared to last year, according to Adobe’s forecast.  The company predicts that every day in that period will reap more than $1 billion in digital sales, with much of that total scooped up on Cyber Monday.

“Cyber Monday will set a new record as the largest and fastest-growing online shopping day of the year with $9.4 billion in sales, an 18.9 percent increase year-over-year,” the report explained. “Online sales between 7 p.m. and 11 p.m. Pacific Time on Cyber Monday are expected to drive over $3 billion in revenue, with sales conversions nearly doubling during these golden hours of online retail.”

On the flip side, a holiday season with only 22 days between Cyber Monday and Christmas leaves six fewer shopping days for consumers, resulting in the billion-dollar loss in potential revenue. However, according to John Copeland, head of marketing and consumer insights at Adobe, retailers will be able to make some of that back by pushing the holiday schedule forward.

“The compressed shopping cycle will see retailers launching offers far earlier than ever before,” Copeland said in an Adobe blog post. “With fewer days to spend, Adobe Analytics predicts that BOPIS (buy online, pick up in-store) will be more popular than ever before, with revenue from this delivery method doubling in the week before Christmas as shoppers rush to complete their gift lists.”

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Adobe predicts a 39 percent increase in BOPIS orders compared to last year, with 37 percent of consumers likely to use the service during the holidays. Additionally, 82 percent of those will be likely to shop for additional items when they pick up their orders and Adobe predicts the retailers that offer BOPIS could see a 19 percent higher conversion rate in the week leading up to Christmas.

Much of the revenue boost gained from BOPIS will go to larger retailers, regardless. Adobe’s data shows that online retailers with more than $1 billion in annual revenue will benefit from an overall revenue boost of about 65 percent during November and December—compared to just a 35 percent bump for retailers who pull in less than $50 million in revenue—even on “Small Business Saturday.”

And smartphones are on track to play a much larger role in holiday shopping this year. Adobe said that smartphones are likely to drive 47 percent off all holiday sales growth in 2019 as Americans will spend $14 billion more on their phones. In fact, browsing and buying via smartphone is predicted to top desktop shopping on Christmas day for the first time ever.

Adobe based its predictions using a dataset gathered from more than 1 trillion visits to retail sites involving roughly 55 million individual SKUs. Powered by Adobe’s own predictive AI and machine learning technologies, the report took into account transactions from 80 of the top 100 online retailers in the U.S.