Cyber Five Recap, Part I: A New Holiday Emerges

While the traditional “Cyber 5” of Thanksgiving, Black Friday, Cyber Saturday, Cyber Sunday, and Cyber Monday get most of the press (along with the inevitable sixth day, Cyber Tuesday), we noticed an interesting phenomenon this year — one that leads us to believe that we’re now up to, at the very least, a “Cyber 7.” And, no, we aren’t talking about this upcoming Wednesday, November 28, as we aren’t yet able to see into the future.

We’re talking about last Wednesday, November 21, which is also known as Thanksgiving Eve (or, the day you stuff all the junk in your house into a closet and make three trips to the grocery store to prepare for guests the next day) in the United States and just a regular Wednesday (at least for now) in the rest of the world.

What leads us to the notion that regular, pre-Thanksgiving Wednesday is now a thing that should be named: In 2018, among the days up to and including Cyber Sunday, our clients had their strongest year-over-year increase in sales on our platform on Thanksgiving Eve.

The chart below plots the marketplaces GMV on our platform from Wednesday through Cyber Sunday by percentage of GMV earned on each day in 2017 and 2018. From this view, you can see a slight increase on Wednesday. Our clients earned 19.1% of their GMV this year on Wednesday versus 15.5% in 2017.

The story gets more interesting and more pronounced as you look at the top marketplaces and compare the US against the rest of the world. To tell the story, we use the following charts, which highlight the percentage of ChannelAdvisor clients that had their highest sales day on the days indicated in both 2017 and 2018.

Let’s take a look at Amazon first. In the US, more than 23% of our clients had their highest sales day on Wednesday, up from just over 13% in 2017. This came primarily at the expense of Cyber Sunday, when only 17.5% of clients had their highest day as compared to 25.5% last year. Outside of the US, where a Thursday Thanksgiving isn’t a thing, Black Friday (which is increasingly a thing) dominates, with only a slight uptick noticeable on Wednesday.

Looking at eBay, we see the same trend. 38% of our clients in the US had their best sales day of the five on Wednesday in 2018. Outside of the US, the sales were slightly more front-loaded on the first three days, but Wednesday was about the same from 2017 to 2018.

Finally, let’s take a look at Walmart in the US. While a slightly higher percentage of these clients had their best day on Walmart on Wednesday, Black Friday continues to dominate for sellers on Walmart.

Data from Adobe Analytics seems to back up this trend. Online spending the day before Thanksgiving totaled $2.4 billion in the U.S., a 31.8% year-over-year increase (compared to 28% year-over-year increase on Thanksgiving and 23.6% year-over-year increase on Black Friday).  

What does this all mean? With promotions starting earlier and earlier, the Cyber 5 shopping period seems to be getting stretched earlier and earlier, at least among US sellers.

The Cyber Five may soon stretch the other way too, and continue for many days past Cyber Monday, but we’ll have to wait and see how that develops. Many brands and retailers (like Target) are already banking on the fact that shoppers will be primed for deals, and they’re offering longer promotions and more incentives to shop even after the “traditional” shopping days are done.

Be sure to subscribe to the blog for updates on Cyber Five stats, holiday shopping trends and more in the weeks ahead.

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