Online Holiday 2020 Shopping Reaches New Record

Americans have spent more money online during the 2020 holiday season than ever before, as they used the Internet to purchase gifts amid the pandemic.

Online holiday season revenue grew by 32% year-over-year and exceeded $188.2 billion for the first time, according to Adobe Analytics. Every day during November and December, including Christmas Eve, exceeded $1 billion in sales, with Cyber Monday exceeding $10 billion. 

More website visitors drove the lift in sales, while the average order value remained flat year-over-year. Specifically, consumers shifted their buying habits to take advantage of retailers’ “Buy Online Pick-Up in Store” options, with 25% of orders utilizing that service — an increase of 40% over 2019 holiday levels.

Interestingly, smartphones continued their steady increase despite the shift to remote work. In November and December, 40% of revenue came from smartphones, equating to $23 billion more than was spent on smartphones during the previous holiday season. Christmas, typically the biggest mobile shopping day, saw 52% of the revenue coming from smartphones – surpassing the halfway point for the first time.

What did consumers buy?

Home improvement and consumer electronics retailers saw strong growth, as groceries, appliances, and books surged in popularity over October levels compared to last year, the report found. Toys and jewelry also saw growth, albeit lower than the other categories, of 50% and 66%, respectively. New game consoles and related accessories topped gift lists, along with toy favorites like Legos, Barbies, and Star Wars.

However, not everybody exhibited the same shopping patterns or witnessed the same sales rates. Cities with higher household incomes or more educated populations saw greater growth than those at the other end of the spectrum. Meanwhile, large retailers dominated the holiday shopping season, with small retailers seeing a smaller boost in sales.

Amazon said it had its “biggest holiday season to date,” noting that independent sellers on its platform saw over $4.8 billion in sales worldwide on Black Friday and Cyber Monday, an increase of 60% over last year. Walmart’s e-commerce sales also boomed in 2020, with sales nearing $1.2 billion for fourth-quarter dates through Cyber Monday (Oct. 1- Nov. 30).

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