2021 Holiday Shopping Trends: Black Friday and Cyber Monday

2021 Holiday Shopping Trends:
Black Friday and Cyber Monday Results

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With the Thanksgiving holiday in the rearview mirror, it’s time for the next Accertify Holiday Tracker!  On October 1st, we started sharing quick bi-weekly synopses of holiday shopping trends we are seeing in eCommerce and putting that in context with previous years and against a backdrop of broader macro trends.

Accertify is fortunate to protect 40% of the Internet Retailer’s top 100 merchants and the top global airlines (based on revenue) and leading US ticketing and entertainment websites, thus we have unique insights to transaction volumes across the world’s marquis brands. If you missed the last Accertify Holiday Tracker, you can read it here.

And now for our fourth holiday shopping trends analysis. We looked at transaction volumes from November 16-30, including a breakout of Black Friday (BF) and Cyber Monday (CM) results, across retail, travel, and entertainment industries globally from 2019, 2020, and 2021.  To aid in our comparison, and to provide a broader perspective across the COVID-19 pandemic, we’ll use the 2019 time period as our basis.

Let’s start with BF and CM as they garner all the attention and collectively account for the two biggest online shopping days of the year.  Transaction volumes across all industries YoY on Black Friday and Cyber Monday were up 9.8% and 10.6%, respectively.  While a rising tide lifts all boats, not everyone felt the impact equally. The return of travel and entertainment volumes fueled Black Friday and Cyber Monday results compared to 2020, are what fueled the bulk of the increased transaction growth on both of these days. That doesn’t mean retail underperformed (2.1 and 2.5%, respectively) but it reinforces a few trends for this holiday season.

First, retail volumes have been rising since early October and it is clear many shoppers purchased early and didn’t procrastinate. That is likely the result of media attention focused on supply chain disruptions and fear of low inventories and out-of-stock items.

Second, holiday shopping trends show there was less discounting this year and not as much lure to wait until Black Friday or Cyber Monday to get a great deal. Some retailers even instituted guarantees to protect consumers who shopped early against prices dropping later.

Lastly, while our metrics look at transaction volumes and not spend, large, diversified retailers had increased volumes and increased basket sizes as compared to 2020. A hypothesis here (and one we touched on in our last Holiday Tracker) is that consumers may have migrated to brands with desired items in stock and once there they added additional items into their shopping carts. On the flip side, specialty retailers may have seen YoY declines in transaction volumes but held the line with increased basket sizes. 

To put this in perspective, by way of an example, if I purchased a TV (or similar large ticket item) in October, it is unlikely I purchased another one on Black Friday or Cyber Monday. Instead, I made smaller more diversified purchases on those days and consolidated my shopping across a few big-box retailers (more volume and large basket size). Conversely, if I purchased a TV on either Black Friday or Cyber Monday, that may have been with a specialty provider and perhaps the only item I purchased at that retailer (less volume but higher basket size). When earnings season comes around in Q1 2022 we should get some answers.

As we look back at the second half of November, Accertify’s clients’ eCommerce transaction volumes across all industries globally, continued at an accelerated pace of 18.8% YoY and 27.9% compared to 2019.  This again reiterates that shopping was strong across all days during this time period and not solely concentrated on Black Friday and Cyber Monday results.