Tryptophan Had No Impact on 2012 Holiday Shopping
As the last of the turkey soup is gobbled up and the glut of last week’s circulars move to the recycle bin, we wanted to take a moment to share some observations about the 2012 holiday shopping season.
Big Year-End for Retailers
The National Association of Retailers (NRF) estimated the extended holiday shopping weekend generated a record $59.1 billion in sales this year, up 12.8% from last year. According to an NRF survey, an estimated 247 million shoppers took advantage of deals throughout the weekend.
BrightTag had a great holiday weekend as well. It was an exciting few days as we monitored the spiking online traffic patterns generated by our customers’ sites, which include many of the world’s leading retailers. This record-breaking stretch of online madness put our virtual servers and scalable infrastructure to the test. I am happy to report at 5x the size we were last year, BrightTag had 100% uptime throughout the extended holiday.
Below are a few interesting traffic patterns and trends we noticed:
Typically, Monday Tuesday morning quarterbacking about the biggest shopping days of the season tends to focus on two days: Black Friday and Cyber Monday. This year, however, we saw quite a runup to the big shopping days. According to Comscore, online spending in early November was up 16% to the tune of $10.1 billion vs. the year prior. This ramp up can be seen in the chart below.
Twilight Thursday is a thing
Comscore reported big gains for Thursday, up 32% to $633 million. The first major spike in traffic across our servers came shortly after the leftovers were distributed and everyone sat down to plot their Black Friday attack. By 9pm CT, BrightTag was sustaining a traffic load well over double our normal rate. As the trend to shop early and often continues, we expect Twilight Thursday to soon have its own branding and special circulars.
Paint It Double Black Friday
For the first time, Black Friday retail sales topped $1 billion compared to $816 million on the corresponding day last year. Mobile also played a much bigger role in the holiday shopping season this year, according to Jefferies Equity Research. Black Friday volumes on PayPal and eBay increased 193% Y/Y and 153% Y/Y, respectively.
From our vantage, it was a predictable Black Friday where we sustained double peak traffic than a typical day. It was interesting to see that our traffic patterns closely mirrored what Akamai was seeing.
No Case of the Mondays
The competition between Black Friday and Cyber Monday has always been tight, but according to the NRF, Cyber Monday overtook Black Friday as the biggest online shopping day between 2003 and 2010. More than 129 million consumers held off until Monday to do their holiday shopping and, by all accounts, the pre-planning, comparison shopping and coupon clipping paid off.
IBM estimated sales were up 30% and Comscore reported spending on Monday exceeded $1.46 billion making it the biggest day yet for Cyber Monday. Yet, order value fell 6.6%. Many factors could be at play including an earlier start to the holiday shopping season, change in consumer buying patterns, as well as deals that extend into December.
According to the big board at BrightTag HQ, our numbers were very much up. The highly anticipated online shopping day set a new BrightTag record with overall volume coming in 12.4% higher than what we saw on record-breaking Black Friday a few days prior.
Some Final Thoughts…
- Not-so-small Saturday – Representatives from the NRF indicate that Small Business Saturday is starting to have an impact with 81 million people shopping local brick-and-mortar stores this year.
- Tuesday Chaser – The day after Cyber Monday, it appears everyone had their fill of shopping online. This was evidenced by the 60% drop back to normal levels.
Our battle-tested infrastructure handled record-breaking holiday shopping season like a champ and we expect a significantly elevated hum of activity for the next few weeks. As we continue to scale the platform, maniacally focus on performance and add new features that help our customers scale their businesses, the future continues to look bright.