| Jun 25, 2019

Countdown to Christmas: Six Months To Go

Strategic planning for the holiday shopping season doesn’t wait until the holiday decorations start appearing on store shelves. Christmas may be six months out, but retailers and brands are already prepping for the flurry of gift buying and deal searching that will occur in November and December. The key to winning the holiday retail season is understanding who your customers are and what drives their purchasing decisions—and we’re here to help.

Which shopping days are most important for different groups of shoppers? Which retailers performed best on these days? How did holiday promotions affect shopping behavior? We took a look at Numerator data for top gifting categories (Apparel, Books, Electronics, Entertainment, Party & Occasions, Sports and Toys) from the 2018 holiday season to get answers to these and other questions and to help you develop a winning holiday strategy.

How Big Are the Big Holiday Shopping Days?

Still big. Really big.

Overall, 22% of 2018 holiday spend for top gifting categories occurred between Thanksgiving and Cyber Monday. Black Friday claimed more than twice as much holiday spend as Cyber Monday (7.1% to 3.5%) in 2018. Thanksgiving was easily the second biggest shopping day with 6% of holiday spend, while Super Saturday, the last Saturday before Christmas, came in third with 3.8%.

Looking at the generational breakdown of shopping on the four big shopping days, we see that Black Friday and Super Saturday were still the most popular shopping days across generations. Interestingly, older shoppers are more likely to shop at the last minute, and despite their tech-savvy nature, Gen Zers are actually the least likely to shop on Cyber Monday.

According to our Numerator Survey of shoppers who made a purchase during Thanksgiving weekend in 2018, 45% said they planned to do more holiday shopping online and less in store versus the year before, while 17% said they planned to shop more in-store and less online.

Which Retailers Won the Big Holiday Shopping Days in 2018?

Walmart scored a big win on Black Friday 2018 with 24% share of wallet in the most popular product categories. However, Amazon (19%) is closing the gap, and both Target (12%) and Best Buy (11%) had strong showings. Not surprisingly, it was Amazon (52%) versus everyone else on Cyber Monday, with only Walmart reaching double digits (15%) on the biggest e-commerce day of the year.

Walmart owned Thanksgiving in 2018 with 44% share of wallet, more than tripling the shares of Amazon (14%), Target (14%) and Best Buy (12%). With 31% share of wallet, Walmart also ran away with Super Saturday, far ahead of Target (15%), Amazon (10%), Best Buy (6%) and Kohl’s (6%).

Top Holiday Gift and Promotional Categories

Party & Occasions (which is 59% gift cards) and Toys both saw more than 2.5 times more sales during the 2018 holiday season than the rest of the year. Sales for Electronics, Entertainment, Books, Sports and Apparel were all 1.5 to 1.9 times higher. 

If there’s one thing we see each year when we analyze promotions from the holiday season, it’s that print is still extremely important. In fact, 55% of shoppers surveyed said they used print circulars to find holiday deals in 2018, even in this age of email, social media and mobile apps. According to Numerator Promotions data, the categories that showed up the most in holiday print promotions in 2018 were Apparel, Jewelry, Toys & Games, and Housewares.

How Target Created Its Own Sales Spike

In 2018, Target proved that you don’t have to rely on the biggest shopping days for spikes in holiday spending. Target ran a promotion that highlighted gift cards for 10% off, a deal that was only valid on Sunday, December 2. Target’s share of wallet that day was almost three times higher than its average share of wallet for the entire holiday season.

Essentially, Target took a day not known for big holiday sales and created its own sales spike by heavily promoting a simple, unique offer. The success of this promotion could mean opportunities to capitalize on last-minute shopping, as 15% of households buy gift cards in the final week leading up to Christmas.

This is just a small sampling of the insights you can gain from Numerator data. To learn more about 2018 holiday shopping, including average depth of discount, the top promoted brands in popular gifting categories, and the top-selling products on Black Friday and Cyber Monday, download the full Holiday Durables Guide, and let us help you prep for the 2019 holiday season.