2013 Holiday Shopping Trends & Beyond

With the 2013 holiday shopping season well underway, we wanted to share some interesting findings on the trends and traffic patterns surrounding Black Friday and Cyber Monday – throughout which BrightTag upheld its standard 100 percent uptime.

Following are analyses and graphs of the traffic we processed for our more than 1,000 clients, which include some of the world’s largest brands and retailers.

Holiday Shopping Ramp-Up

Similar to 2012, this year traffic increased steadily throughout November. In fact, by the time Thanksgiving arrived, traffic had doubled from the beginning of the month. Compared to the start of November, traffic increased 3x on Black Friday and 4x on Cyber Monday.

Compared to 2012, holiday shopping traffic started increasing approximately two weeks earlier this year – at the beginning of the month instead of mid November. As the National Retail Foundation recently reported, approximately 40 percent of consumers began their holiday shopping prior to Halloween. This has resulted in holiday advertising and merchandising commencing even earlier in the year as the graph below shows.

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Black Friday Week

Rather than focusing solely on the two primary shopping days of Black Friday and Cyber Monday, some marketers now campaign around “Black Friday Week,” coining creative names such as “Wild Wednesday” and “Gray Thursday” to influence customers’ shopping habits. More consistent marketing and merchandising throughout the week, plus the growth of BrightTag’s client base, resulted in higher online shopping traffic all week compared to previous years. For example, the Monday of Black Friday Week 2013 saw a 75 percent increase in traffic volume from the same day in 2012.

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What’s perhaps most fascinating is that this year Black Friday Week shopping traffic began to increase on the evening of the previous Friday. In the below graph, note how the traffic patterns of the previous week (in green) matched the traffic leading up to Black Friday Week (in blue) until they diverged on Friday, Nov. 22. This was likely caused by retailers distributing their first waves of Black Friday Week communications a week before, and the traffic continued to grow from there.

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Twilight Thursday, Black Friday & Cyber Monday

Interestingly, the traffic peak on Thanksgiving (Twilight Thursday) is almost as high as that of Black Friday. This is likely due to a combination of factors – for example, this year’s Black Friday sales beginning at midnight or earlier (the evening of Thanksgiving) coupled with all of the people who conducted online research to prepare for their offline shopping of the following day.

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Black Friday and Cyber Monday sustained approximately 2x peak traffic compared to a typical 2013 shopping day. Black Friday’s peak traffic occurred in the morning, whereas Cyber Monday’s peak traffic occurred in the evening.

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Thanks to everyone on our team for their hard work, and thanks to all of our clients and partners for putting their trust in BrightTag to help them have their most successful holiday seasons yet!