Ecommerce Expertise / How To Sell Online

What’s the best day for holiday ecommerce sales? The answer may surprise you.

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It’s no secret that recent forecasts are predicting record-setting online sales this holiday season. But which days are best? The most talked about contestants are Cyber Monday and Black Friday—but new trend data shows that Thanksgiving Day and Green Monday could be equally important contenders during this year’s holiday season of ecommerce selling. To figure it all out, we’ve got holiday forecasts from IBM and Adobe with different opinions on which holidays will experience the most growth, as well as data from comScore and Bigcommerce clients covering last year’s ecommerce performance over the holidays.

The Underdog: Thanksgiving

Before we look at this year’s forecasts, lets take a look at past data. Typically, we hear about Black Friday and Cyber Monday when there’s talk about holiday sales, but Thanksgiving has shown a lot of growth over the past two years. Take a look at this chart from comScore covering the growth rates in online selling of several key holidays:

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Out of all the big players, Thanksgiving grew the most in 2013. We saw this same trend in Bigcommerce holiday sales last year as well. Why? It’s likely because Thanksgiving is quickly transforming into Gray Thursday, where consumers dread the consumer chaos that comes with Black Friday. Surrounded by friends and family around the table, fire, or TV, they’ll all be on their mobile devices browsing sites like yours to ease their Black Friday burden.

It could also be that many big brick and mortar stores have started closing on Thanksgiving Day, making ecommerce the best avenue for shopping. Lately, many big businesses like Costco, Lowes, Nordstrom and many others have declared that they will not be open for Thanksgiving, partly because they are looking after their employees, and partly because it’s fantastic PR that boosts their reputation and makes competition look soulless and greedy. Let’s hope they keep it up! As an ecommerce store, you get to stay open all day, everyday, mobile or desktop.

A cornucopia of growth

In fact, mobile is a large reason driving the growth in Thanksgiving spending. Over the five day period between Thanksgiving Day and Cyber Monday, IBM’s recent holiday forecast is predicting that 48.2% of all traffic will be from mobile devices, and 24.4% of web sales to be via mobile. On Thanksgiving Day specifically, they’re predicting 53% of traffic to be from mobile, with 28% of sales being straight from mobile devices. Adobe’s online holiday shopping predictions are in the same boat, claiming that 31% of web sales on Thanksgiving Day will be via mobile. On Black Friday, they expect that number to be 26%, and 20% on Cyber Monday.

It’s pretty clear that analysts are taking notice of Thanksgiving. IBM is claiming that it will place second in terms of growth rates this year, at 15.6%, with Cyber Monday on top at 15.8%. Adobe is also optimistic, predicting a 27% growth on Thanksgiving Day. The holiday definitely isn’t a time for an ecommerce entrepreneur to sit around roasting a turkey, or they might just become one.

Look to the past for the future

So where do Black Friday and Cyber Monday stand? They’ve always been the holiday heavyweight champs, and it’s no different this year. From the same forecast, IBM believes the best growth increase will come from Cyber Monday at 15.8% with Black Friday at 15.6%, while Adobe’s predictions point to Black Friday as the greatest day of growth at 28%, with Cyber Monday at 15%. They may differ by day, but they definitely agree that we’re going to see some cheery holiday growth on the big days.

And where there’s growth, there’s sales. A look at past performance can give better insights to the future, so check out this chart by comScore for more info on the top online spending days of the year. Keep in mind these days are the best performing days of the entire year, not just the holidays:

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Living up to its name, the indisputable winner of last year’s results was Cyber Monday at $1.735 billion. And at $1.199 billion, Black Friday didn’t even rank among the top three. It placed in fifth. Its position makes sense though, as many brick & mortar stores pump out in-store promotions on Black Friday. Plus, the day is infamous for its crowds, so it makes sense that there would be less online sales.

Mondays aren’t so miserable after all

But what’s more interesting is that if you check out all the days in comScore’s chart, you can clearly see that Cyber Monday is more of a “Cyber Week.” Four of the top ten selling days are within that week. The week alone racked up $5.331 billion in sales—42% of the total spending during the top ten days of ecommerce selling. Clearly, specific holidays aren’t just one-off events to sell more. They’re fueling a weeks worth of increased selling.

Because of that, Green Monday can’t be ignored. Defined as the second Monday of December when consumers see Christmas in sight, it’s very similar to Cyber Monday in that many of the days within its week placed among the top ten. Check out the chart—half of the top selling days are within the week of Green Monday, with an online spending total that exceeds the total spent in “Cyber Week” by 6% with $707 million more in sales. While we get hyped over Cyber Monday and Black Friday, Green Monday might be more important as it’s closer to Christmas, and the pressure to buy is greater.

The results

Regardless of which day is better, it’s important to note that the best time to sell online is obviously not a one day affair. Whether it’s Thanksgiving and Black Friday, Cyber or Green Monday, each holiday marks an entire week of selling. Just be sure that you don’t start slacking on your marketing efforts simply because the gauntlet of selling between Thanksgiving Day and Cyber Monday is over.

So, who’s the champ? Who cares. Ecommerce is thriving, and, as long as your site is ready for business, you’ll be making the bank. If you think you’re ill-prepared, or if you just want to see what more you can do, it won’t hurt to take a look at our FREE Holiday Ecommerce Guide. And if you’d prefer some simple, quick tips instead, check out some of our 30 last-minute holiday shopping tips.

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