The Numbers from Black Friday 2016: Lessons To Put to Use in 2017

The Numbers from Black Friday 2016

The numbers are in and ecommerce stores have a lot to learn from holiday shopping data this year. From Black Friday to Cyber Monday and Small Business Saturday, there are a lot of lessons to be learned for a more successful 2017. First, the numbers:

  • 108.5 million Americans shopped online over the long weekend including Black Friday and Cyber Monday compared to 99.1 million who shopped in stores. (National Retail Federation)
  • Black Friday online sales increased 21% over the same day last year with a record $3.34 billion in sales. (BigCommerce)
  • Cyber Monday sales were up 12% from last year at $3.45 billion. (Adobe)
  • An estimated 112 million Americans shopped on Small Business Saturday, a 13% increase over 2015. (National Federation of Independent Businesses)


When are Holiday Shoppers Buying?

While online shopping numbers were up on both Black Friday and Cyber Monday, the trends appear to be changing. Cyber Monday has traditionally dominated as the busiest online shopping day during the holidays but Black Friday, traditionally known for deals in brick and mortar stores, is quickly catching up online.

Many buyers want to shop online-deals earlier than Cyber Monday, and holiday shoppers that used to head to stores on Black Friday are staying home and getting the deals online.

There’s another trend that could affect the significance of ‘single day’ deals online. According to analysts, Black Friday appears to be lessening in importance as more consumers look to buy during pre-Black Friday sales. Some markdowns started as early as September with discounts reaching up to 50% after November 1st.

Based on these trends, ecommerce stores should consider offering Black Friday “sneak peek” or “early access” pricing in the days or weeks before Black Friday in 2017.

The dominant online players have already adopted this approach. At Amazon and eBay, their Black Friday sale pricing went into effect weeks before Black Friday. offered Black Friday deals a full month in advance. Target and WalMart both launched “Cyber Week” sales that started the weekend before Black Friday.


What Devices are Holiday Shoppers Using to Buy?

Mobile shopping broke a record on Black Friday this year. According to Adobe, Black Friday transactions made on phones and tablets exceeded $1.2 billion. That’s a significant 33% increase over 2015.

There was a similar increase in mobile sales on Cyber Monday this year. Mobile generated $1 billion in sales, which represents a 34% increase over the year before.

While there is clearly a growing shift toward mobile purchasing behavior, desktop sales still dominate all orders. BigCommerce broke down purchases by device during Cyber Week this year and found desktop use decreasing slightly and mobile use on the rise.

                       2016        2015

Desktop        51%          53%

Mobile           38%         36%

Tablet            9%            10%

As mobile and tablet usage close in on desktop shopping, ecommerce stores need to continually adapt. Make sure every element of your customer’s journey is optimized for each device. The checkout process should be especially accessible, intuitive and simple on a mobile display.


Where are Holiday Shoppers Talking?

Social media is playing a larger role in holiday shopping. According to eMarketer, 52% of respondents said they would use social media for shopping in some way. 36% plan to use it to find discounts, 32% will browse social channels for gift ideas and 12% plan to watch product videos on social media.

Getting a mention on social media is a good way to get noticed over the holidays. Statistics from Adobe showed there were nearly 4 million mentions of retailers last year. Innovative ecommerce stores are finding unique ways to encourage conversations, mentions and ideas through social networks.

For example, outdoor clothing and gear store REI closed on Black Friday this year and encouraged loyal shoppers to spend the day outdoors and use the hashtag #optoutside. The brand earned 10 times more social media mentions than any other retailer.

Before you close out 2016, reflect on what your ecommerce store experienced during the busiest online shopping days this year. Because your 2017 holiday planning should begin with lessons learned from this year.


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