Online sales this holiday will rise 13.8% to $107.4 billion, while in-store retail sales will grow 10%, according to Adobe’s holiday retail report, based on number crunching from its Adobe Analytics unit. Most of those online purchases will be for lower-dollar items, as they were last year, when sales of toys (39% growth) and apparel (20%) outpaced jewelry.
Adobe also expects Cyber Monday this year to become the largest online shopping day in history, rising 16.5% to generate $6.6 billion in sales. Thanksgiving Day sales will also be robust, according to the forecast, which pegs 15% increase year over year to $2.8 billion. All told, one out of every six dollars this holiday season, or $19.7 billion, will be spent between Thanksgiving and Cyber Monday, the firm said.
Large retailers — those with more than $100 million in annual revenue — will see higher order values and desktop conversion rates than their smaller counterparts (those with less than $10 million in annual revenue). But smaller retailers have an advantage on mobile and will likely see a higher average conversion rate of 1.9% as they attract more shoppers with an intent to buy, according to Adobe.
While many consumers are holding off until November or later to start their holiday shopping, retailers should be prepared for high traffic online and in stores come Thanksgiving weekend as customers start tackling their lists. Adobe's research backs up other recent studies showing a surge is coming in online sales for the holidays in general and during the red-letter sales weekend in particular.
Deloitte last month found that more than half (55%) plan to shop online for gifts, while 44% plan a trip to mass merchants. Prosper Insights and the National Retail Federation report that many holiday shoppers will go online for convenience this year. "Although sales will remain an important factor for most consumers, many will lean on convenient locations and easy-to-use websites or mobile apps along with free shipping to complete their purchases," Prosper Insights Principal Analyst Pam Goodfellow said.
Indeed, retailers winning over holiday shoppers will be those "offering steep discounts and providing a seamless customer journey,” according to Mickey Mericle, Adobe vice president of marketing and insights. "This year’s record-breaking online holiday shopping season is built on the strength of the big players," she said. "We predict the biggest retailers with wide selections, easy shopping experiences and free shipping, to drive online holiday growth this year. Still, there is opportunity for savvy small retailers to win, specifically with mobile experiences."
While Adobe predicts desktop purchases to account for two-thirds of revenue this holiday season, mobile is serving as a starting point for many consumers. For the first time, web traffic on smartphones and tablets (54%) will likely be higher than for desktops (46%).
The most desired electronics this holiday season include Apple Air Pods, Sony PlayStation VR and home assistants, including Amazon Echo and Google Home, Adobe said. Nostalgia will help push sales of toys and video games, like Hasbro NERF Guns, Nintendo Switch and Super Mario Odyssey, which Adobe expects to be among the top-sellers. Last year's top toys, like Moose’s Toys’ Shopkins and Spin Master Hatchimals, are capitalizing on their success with updates.
This year's best dates for deals, according to the study, will be driven by the sharpest discounts, which are expected on Black Friday, with televisions (23.7%), tablets (23.6%), jewelry (12%) and appliances (17.7%) offering the best deals. On Thanksgiving the best deals will be on computers (16%), sporting goods (11%), apparel (15%) and video games/consoles (9.6%). Cyber Monday discounts will be highest for toys (19.1%). "Some products will likely be out of stock before they see major discounts," Adobe warned. "Appliances, tablets and televisions are most likely to be out-of-stock on Thanksgiving Day, before seeing the largest discounts on Black Friday."
For the study, Adobe analyzed 1 trillion visits to more than 4,500 retail sites and 55 million SKUs. (Adobe Analytics measures 80% of online transactions at the largest 100 U.S. web retailers), plus a survey of more than 1,100 U.S. consumers and analysis from twelve million social mentions between Aug. 1 and Oct. 11.