Back in October, Adobe Analytics released their 2023 Holiday Spending forecast, which predicted that holiday sales (Now.1 to Dec.31) would reach $221.8 billion, representing a 4.8% growth year-over-year (YoY). Extreme discounts and the popularity of Buy Now, Pay Later (BNPL) were expected to cause even the most frugal of shoppers to ignore their budgets in favor of a good deal. 

Black Friday and Cyber Monday are no longer single-day events – it’s just one part of a broader Black November experience. Retailers started their promotions earlier, spreading sales throughout November and even extending into December. 

In the week leading up to Cyber Week – the shopping period including Thanksgiving, Black Friday, and Cyber Monday – online sentiment seemed to favor the opposite, with many shoppers pointing out bad sales and hyper-inflated pricing. Industry forecasters also warned of stricter budgets this holiday season amid student loan repayments, the rising cost of groceries, and increasing interest rates.  

However, despite the general temperament online, recently released Adobe Analytics data shows record holiday spending with Cyber Monday took center stage, boasting a remarkable 9.6% YoY growth to an impressive $12.4 billion. The entirety of Cyber Week saw a 7.8% YoY surge, reaching a staggering $38 billion

Between November 1 and November 27, shoppers have been active online, spending a hefty $109.3 billion—a solid 7.3% increase compared to the same period last year. 60%, is linked to five specific categories, electronics, ($21.7 billion); apparel ($19.2 billion); furniture ($14.7 billion); grocery shopping ($6.8 billion); and toys ($3.1 billion).

Cyber Monday Highlights

Consumer spending surpassed Adobe’s initial projection, solidifying Cyber Monday as the largest online shopping day in history, with eager shoppers capitalizing on substantial discounts across various categories.

  • According to Adobe Analytics, in the peak hour from 10:00 to 11:00 pm Eastern, $15.7 million was spent every minute. 
  • In terms of steep discounts, electronics led the charge with discounts peaking at 31% off the listed price.
  • Apparel was the favorite amongst shoppers this year, with online sales up 189% compared to last October.
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Mobile Beats Out Desktop for the First Time

Over the course of Cyber Week, mobile shopping outpaced desktop, driving 51.8% of online sales, indicating that the small-screen shopping experience is finally offering more than its desktop counterpart.

The Winners

Some industries stood out more than others. Apparel was the favored category on Cyber Monday and brands like Abercrombie and Fitch still managed to attract consumers despite decreasing their discount from 30% last year to 25% this year. Other categories also saw strong demand, including appliances (up 166%) and electronics (up 103%). Beauty and skincare also proved to be a favorite amongst shoppers, with brands like e.l.f. Beauty and Coty being go-tos for consumers.

Buy Now, Pay Later Usage Grows

Though the average consumer has become more budget-conscious, this year Buy Now, Pay Later (BNPL), such as Klarna, Affirm, or Afterpay proved to be a popular alternative means of flexing the budget. From November 1 to November 27, BNPL accounted for $8.3 billion of holiday spending, a 17% YoY growth,  with Cyber Monday seeing $940 million in online sales, an all-time high, up 42.5% YoY. Interestingly, the average number of items per order surged by 11% compared to the previous year, indicating that shoppers are increasingly utilizing BNPL for more expensive purchases.

Key Takeaway

Consumer spending is expected to remain strong throughout the rest of December. The results of Cyber Week 2023 present valuable lessons for business owners in optimizing their strategies for the holiday season. The record-breaking sales and consumer spending during this period show that consumers are still hungry for any discounts, even in the face of budgetary concerns.

Let the increasing popularity of mobile shopping be a sign to revamp your mobile experience. It’s clear that clunky UX and poorly designed mobile sites are going to start being a detriment to many businesses in the coming years. Businesses should prioritize providing a seamless and convenient shopping experience across mobile devices to cater to the growing preference for mobile shopping. This could include having a responsive website, a user-friendly mobile app, and streamlined checkout processes.

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Greg Ahern
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