Covid19: Sales reports for BFCM 2021, end-of-year predictions & more
8 min read
8 min read
To be very blunt with you right off the bat, we were very anxious to see how 2021 Black Friday and Cyber Monday will play out. The intrigue we had this year lacked in 2020 for all too well-known reasons – the coronavirus and news about it spreading at breakneck speed while brick-and-mortar businesses struggled to stay afloat and e-commerce was living through a period of bonanza.
2021 was interesting for several reasons. To an extent, it was a year of hope, given that vaccines were made available and in most countries and regions, there were periods without any lockdowns or strict travel bans.
All in all, it was more bearable than 2020. Still, with the majority of the world struggling to get their vaccination rates up, new strains of the virus, and a groundhog-day-like life for many, this year was not an easy one.
Some companies are still working remotely or following the hybrid model. People are still being encouraged to stick to essential travel only and follow physical distancing rules and regulations. Rules vary from one country to another and the rules within one sole country can change almost overnight. Therefore, we dare say that we pretty much still are living in a world covered with an additional layer of uncertainty (on top of the built-in one, because life is never linear and we should all be able to comprehend that).
Covid19 induced tectonic shifts across industries and while some may have been more prepared than others, we were all pretty much caught by surprise with the scale of this pandemic. Some people lost their entire businesses, others lost their jobs and many people out there lost their loved ones. All of our lives have changed, in one way or another. And you know us people, we are creatures of habit – be it just the way we like our coffee in the morning or the entire daily routine we like to stick to. So, with this massive change unraveling across the globe, our habits and the usual ways of doing things couldn’t be spared.
Shopping habits are just a tiny piece of this puzzle but with the shopping frenzy naturally built up around holidays, with Black Friday and Cyber Monday deals, we couldn’t but be curious to see how the numbers will look like while the coronavirus is still raging, just not as viciously as 12 months ago.
After the general shift to digital, spurred by the pandemic, we anticipated there to be an increase in consumers doing their shopping in person compared to last year, simply because the situation is a bit more relaxed now. And, for the Cyber Monday lovers, we expected to see a rise in online shopping with an increasing number of brands using realizing the opportunity in online presence nowadays.
The curiosity was building up as the said shopping events were coming closer because of 2020 volatility which left us almost completely unsure of what shopping behaviors we may see this year. After analyzing the available data, we have decided to share some highlights from this years’ holiday season shopping spree.
We already told you the story of Black Friday originating in the United States, and not only does sales still dominate there but the U.S. occupied the highest online search interest for Black Friday in 2021, too. Now, this doesn’t mean that the rest of the world doesn’t care about Black Friday, because the shopping mania caught wind in other countries and spread across the globe in recent years.
United States retailers brought in over $9 billion in online sales on Black Friday from 2013 to 2019, with growth percentages growing each year without exception. In fact, the growth was so striking that sales in 2020 surged 22% from the year prior to a record $9 billion for that year alone.
2021 botched the winning streak and, according to Adobe Analytics report, showed a drop in Black Friday sales to $8.9 billion. Some say this was a result of the lingering coronavirus effects, such as longer shipping times and/or items being out-of-stock while others theorize the consumers may have caught what they wanted in earlier online deals, thus snatching some of the momenta.
Shopping lovers know this very well – Black Friday is not the only day for consumers to snag some extra deals, not only because retailers tend to extend the Black Friday deals over the weekend but because the Monday after is what we know as Cyber Monday. Cyber Monday was intended to encourage people to shop online and this is why it fits perfectly into the world we have all been living in for the past 2 years almost.
Nosto.com shared the following findings:
In 2021, while Cyber Monday turned out to have 9% more traffic over Black Friday, the latter had 23% more sales. In 2020, the situation was looking very different from this year. There was no difference in traffic and Cyber Monday had 11% more sales over Black Friday.
In 2020, consumers in the United States spent a record $34.4 billion during Cyber Week, which is an increase of 20.7% year-over-year. This year, however, the Cyber Week sales dropped by 1.4% and brought in $33.9 billion in online sales, according to the report from Adobe’s Digital Economy Index.
Their analysis is the result of data from over one trillion visits to the U.S. e-commerce websites, which feature 100 million individual SKUs across 18 product categories, giving it a comprehensive overview of holiday shopping behaviors. Cyber Monday sales almost mirrored the Black Friday drop, with a drop by 1.4% year-over-year – which totals $10.7 billion in 2021, which is $100 million shy of what the shoppers spent in 2020.
These drops, although fairly small, represent somewhat a shift in the usual holiday shopping trends that we were so used to seeing go up with every subsequent year. Adobe reads it as an after-effect of the long-lasting impacts of the coronavirus pandemic, such as supply chain shortages. They say consumers’ psyche may have been played by it and, if that is the case, worried about possible shortages, consumers may have shopped earlier this year because they didn’t want to risk waiting for good deals during the BFCM period and be empty-handed.
We get a real kick out of looking at data and there’s no speculation in this world we will believe without looking at the numbers first. In this case, the data seems to back this theory up. According to Adobe, during the month of November, consumers spent $109.8 billion, which is an increase of 11.9% over the same period in 2020. In addition to that, consumers may have done some of their usual holiday shopping in October, too. There were early deals in October and the cautious ones who didn’t want to take any chances waiting around for discounts on big shopping events such as the BFCM.
That is, sales won’t necessarily be down in 2021 overall, it could just be differently concentrated than what we are so used to seeing. In fact, the pandemic could have made online shopping such a regular habit that consumers are placing their holiday purchases along with their usual activities instead of waiting for the big shopping events such as Big Friday and Cyber Monday.
In other words, sales aren’t necessarily going to be down in 2021 overall, they’re just not going to be as concentrated as before. In fact, the pandemic may have may online shopping such a regular habit that now consumers are placing their holiday purchases alongside their usual activity, instead of waiting for a big Black Friday or Cyber Monday sales event as in years past.
Both Black Friday and Cyber Monday sales symbolically mark the start of the holiday sales season. So, while there are shoppers who did their holiday shopping earlier than this, there could be those who are also waiting to do it at the last minute. Historically, in the United States, for example, only 37% of the holiday sales are made during the Black Friday – Cyber Monday period. And, only 18% of consumers state that they have finished all their holiday shopping by this time.
Ever heard of the second round of Cyber Week or Cyber Week II? This is the period right in between Christmas and New Years’ Eve when consumers are equipped with gift cards and holiday bonuses, ready for shopping bonanza 2.0.
Despite the shopping patterns seemingly looking different, Adobe theorizes the overall 2021 holiday season will break a new record. They predict that shoppers will drive a 10% increase in year-over-year sales, hitting $207 billion from November 1st to December 31st. We’ll have to wait and see but rest assured that we’ll do our homework and break down all the results in the same format, as soon as the data is available – stay tuned!
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