Thanksgiving weekend is always a massively popular shopping time of year and 2017 proved no different as many retailers offered healthy discounts to spark customer engagement.

“The holiday shopping weekend was extraordinary for online retailers,” Sucharita Mulpuru-Kodali, Vice President & Principal Analyst, Forrester, told Loyalty360. “Sales growth from Thanksgiving through Sunday topped Forrester’s average holiday growth estimate of 12 percent (we now forecast a 16 percent lift for the holiday weekend). The five days from last Thursday through Cyber Monday should be 14 percent of the total holiday spend.”

The good news, Mulpuru-Kodali noted, is that consumer confidence is high and retailers have been aggressive with broad site-wide or category-wide discounts, which have also helped encourage shoppers to open their wallets.
 
“One point to note is that all the data points around mobile transactions suggest that mobile shopping growth may be peaking,” she added. “About one-third of transactions are happening on mobile devices, including tablets, and that is about the same number as last year. Hopefully, retailers haven’t forgotten the importance of the desktop experience which still matters for a lot of shoppers and has higher conversion rates in general.”
 
The bad news?
 
“Retailers also face a huge challenge now in shipping all these orders to customers in a timely fashion,” Mulpuru-Kodali said. “The holidays are a time for joy, but irritated customers who don’t receive their packages on time are not so joyous. Fortunately, customers are doing mostly self-gifting now and they aren’t in a rush to receive packages by a specific date (for the most part), but if last year is any indication, many retailers will be working their warehouses at full capacity for days to come just to catch up to the backlog that has been created this weekend.”
 
According to Forrester:

  • U.S. online holiday sales will increase by 12 percent from last season, reaching $129 billion in 2017 
  • Online shoppers are expected to spend an average of $689, which is 8 percent more than the 2016 holiday season 
  • In-store shopping will remain strong, with spending at brick-and-mortar stores reaching $549 billion 
  • 32 percent of shoppers wait until December to start buying gifts, so retailers will need in-store promotions, quick shipping solutions and click-and-collect web functionality to capitalize on this population 
  • More than 60 percent of consumers plan to purchase gift cards this holiday season, making them a top holiday purchase this year. The purchase provides extended retail value as gift card holders are expected to spend an additional 38 percent past the card’s value 

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