Adobe Digital Index/ Market Research

Thanksgiving Is The New Black...Friday, That Is

by Adobe Digital Index

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Holiday shoppers will find the fight for their dollars to be even more fierce this season because of a calendar peculiarity, according to the newly released Adobe Digital Index 2013 Online Shopping Forecast.

While online sales are still expected to grow, this year’s shorter holiday season will cost retailers in potential sales. Mobile and social are set to change the purchasing process. Retailers will look to make up ground by incenting early shopping on Thanksgiving Day and capitalizing on mobile strategies to take a greater share of spend.

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Adobe Digital Index has released its annual forecast based on an analysis of nearly half a trillion visits to retail Web sites, representing possibly the largest and most accurate sales prediction model. This year double-digit grow is expected early on Cyber Monday (up 15%) and Black Friday (up 17%), while Thanksgiving will be the fastest-growing online shopping day (up 21%) in 2013. Cyber Monday, in particular, will break records as the highest single online shopping day ever with sales above $2.27 billion.

Shortest Online Shopping Season Since 2002
This year will be the shortest online shopping season with only 27 days between Thanksgiving and Christmas. By comparison, there were six more days to shop in 2012. While online sales are still expected to grow by 12%, the shorter season will cut a whopping $1.5 billion in potential online sales for retailers. Typically retailers launch big holiday promotions on Black Friday, a date that moves around each year. As a result, they have conditioned consumers to wait for the best deals, and this year there simply won’t be as much time to shop. Successful retailers will offset losses by helping early shoppers know that they don’t need to wait until Thanksgiving weekend to get the best deals.

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The Changing Role Of Thanksgiving
On a brighter note, the late start and pent-up consumer demand will translate into strong year-over-year online sales growth on Thanksgiving, which is expected to break into the “billion-dollar-day” club with online sales up 21% to $1.1 billion. Although many retailers have announced that they will be open, consumers still prefer to stay home with relatives on Thanksgiving, but they don’t want to miss out on the deals. This makes Thanksgiving a natural online sales day for couch-surfing mobile users to get a jump on their shopping.

Brick-and-click retailers will benefit most from online shopping that day as they receive the lion’s share of online spend early in the season. In 2010 Thanksgiving was a below-average sales day, but over the past three years it has grown faster than any other day for online sales. If current growth rates continue, brick-and-click retailers are expected to sell more online on Thanksgiving Day than on Black Friday within the next 5 years.

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The Importance Of Mobile Devices
Last year retailers saw in-store mobile shopping start to take off. This year, consumers say they will shop even more on smartphones and tablets. While waiting in long lines on Black Friday or visiting family over the Thanksgiving weekend, consumers say they will shop 40% more from their mobile devices than last year.

Current trends indicate that both mobile and “local” will matter more than ever, but the divide between the best marketers and the rest is widening. Adobe predicts that mobile-optimized U.S. retailers will transact more than 20% of their online sales via mobile devices--a new record--while the average retailer can expect closer to 14% of sales via mobile.

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Consumers also say they’re more likely than ever to engage in showrooming, which is the practice of going to the store just to see items that can be purchased online. Retailers that offer more sophisticated, holiday-focused mobile apps, geofencing, and location-based promotional strategies will benefit from giving consumers a reason to pull out their mobile devices and shop online while waiting in line.

With Social, It’s All About The Purchasing Journey
Adobe Digital Index expects only 2% of shoppers to jump directly from a social network to a retailer, but 36% of U.S. consumers say that a significant portion (about 30% or more) of their holiday purchases require them to consult social media before making a final purchase decision.

As we noted in a recent social media report, with ads in the newsfeed and promoted tweets and pins, advertising impressions on sites such as Facebook are up 85% versus last year, so consumers should expect to see more and more relevant advertising on Facebook, Pinterest, and Twitter. Retailers need to understand the value of social media in the purchasing journey to effectively use social to drive online sales and not measure social marketing by just looking at direct referrals.

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New Holiday Shopping Experiences
Losing six days will mean more frenetic, distracted shoppers—ones who will need a highly personalized marketing offer to capture their attention. Retailers will be able to offset those lost days and drive online sales by focusing on special holiday apps, innovative social media campaigns, free express shipping for last-minute shoppers, and early promotions well before Black Friday. This shopping season will be very different than ever before—for consumers and for retailers.

For additional insight about what U.S. consumers are thinking—and doing—as they spend their dollars this holiday season, read "ADI Report: Holiday Season Presents Trio Of Digital Trends." 

About The Prediction
Adobe’s predictions come from analysis of 450 billion visits to 2,000-plus retail Web sites during the past seven years and a survey of thousands of consumers around the world. The model’s accuracy last year was within 1% of actuals due to the breadth and depth of the data available for analysis, the most accurate prediction in the industry of its kind. According to figures from Internet Retailer, 72% of the online sales revenue from the top 500 U.S. retailers is generated by companies using Adobe Marketing Cloud technology. Combining this large market share with aggregated and anonymous behavioral data allows Adobe Digital Index to accurately foresee this holiday season’s shopping trends. No specific shopper data is viewed or tracked and, as such, no demographic information including whether the shopper was male or female can be included in the data.

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