What Post-Thanksgiving, Black Friday, & Cyber Monday Numbers Tell Us

Now that the official kick-off to the mad 2014 holiday shopping season is behind us, we were very curious to know how our industry fared this year. Here are some sales and traffic numbers to consider (compared to 2013):


The numbers show that ecommerce did extremely well this past Thanksgiving. The decrease in in-store traffic, combined with the impressive growth in online sales this season, indicates that a significan number of people converted to buying online this year. PayPal, an excellent indicator of global payment activity due to its size and reach, is reporting a 47% year over year increase in PayPal global mobile payment volume on Thanksgiving, and a 62% increase for Black Friday.

According to the IBM Digital Analytics Benchmark:

  • Mobile devices drove more than half of Thanksgiving online traffic
  • Cyber Monday mobile traffic accounted for 41.2% of all online traffic, up 30.1% over 2013
  • Mobile sales were also strong, reaching 22%of total Cyber Monday online sales, an increase of 27.6% year-over-year
  • From Thanksgiving through Cyber Monday, overall online sales increased 12.6%, with mobile sales up 27.2% compared to the same period in 2013
  • Shoppers browse on their smartphones but buy on tablets – smartphones drove 28.5% of all Cyber Monday online traffic, but only 9.1% of online sales while tablets drove 12.5% of online traffic and 12.9% of online sales

These numbers mean very good things for our industry, but they have also exposed some ugly truths about the state of mobile shopping in the U.S. While the actual stats may vary from source to source, they are all telling the same story. First and foremost, people were sitting at the Thanksgiving dinner table looking for online shopping deals on their smartphones while ignoring their turkey (come on, you know you were one of them!).

Additionally, the strong shift to online and mobile shopping continues to take a bite out of retail store traffic and sales and, perhaps the most important of all, the significant increase in year over year mobile (tablet and smartphone) shopping activity.

Despite the large increases in year over year mobile traffic and sales, conversion rates from mobile traffic remain a major challenge for retailers as compared to traffic from a desk or laptop. This can be blamed on the fact that for the vast majority of retailers, shopping on a mobile device remains an incredibly painful experience. Mobile Commerce Daily called out top retailers (Best Buy, Neiman Marcus, GameStop, and J. Crew) as having an outage or slowdown in performance over this critical online shopping weekend. In the same article, David Jones, web and mobile performance strategist at Dynatrace, cited Cabela’s, Foot Locker, and Staples as struggling to maintain mobile site performance.

How much revenue was left on the table from shoppers unable to complete a mobile purchase, we may never know; however, we do know that retailers can no longer afford to ignore mobile. The tipping point has arrived. Customers have spoken. And retailers need to listen: Let them shop where they want, when they want, and how they want.

How did you do this Thanksgiving? What were your struggles? Let us help you prepare for 2015! Contact us today.


  • Optimize the user experience of your mobile site or app. Test extensively based on tasks and personas that reflect your actual customer base and product category.
  • Mitigate the risk of compromised performance from extreme surges in holiday mobile site traffic by adding servers, leveraging a content delivery network (CDN), and stress testing your server network for very large spikes in traffic.
  • Stagger the deployment of large email sends to spread the traffic out over a greater period of time to avoid everyone trying to access your web and mobile site at the same time.