With $91 Billion in Online Sales, Retailers Had a Record-Setting Holiday

Inside A United Parcel Service Inc. Distribution Facility On Cyber Monday
United Parcel Service Inc. (UPS) drivers deliver packages on Cyber Monday in New York, U.S., on Monday, Nov. 30, 2015. Online sales on Cyber Monday may rise at least 18 percent from a year earlier, slower growth than during the holiday weekend, as consumers start their Internet shopping earlier, according to forecasts by International Business Machines Corp. Photographer: John Taggart/BloombergA
Photograph by John Taggart — Bloomberg via Getty Images

Brave the pre-holiday mall crush or kick back on the couch and order your gifts online?

Americans are increasingly selecting the latter option. Between Nov. 1 and Dec. 31, online sales hit $91.7 billion, up 11% from $82.5 billion a year ago, according to a report by Adobe Insights.

The 2016 holiday season also broke a major ecommerce record: Cyber Monday became the biggest online shopping day in U.S. history, generating $3.45 billion in online sales, up 12% from 2015. Black Friday wasn’t far behind, with sales jumping nearly 22% year-over-year to $3.34 billion.

To compile the report, Adobe collected aggregated and anonymous data from 24.6 billion visits to retail websites. This includes 80% of all online transactions from the top 100 U.S. retailers.


The data highlights a sustained and seismic shift in how Americans shop. It’s not just that consumers are migrating online — they’re also more comfortable using a variety of devices to browse, compare prices, and place their orders.

“Retailers saw more people visiting their websites but not purchasing on the days leading up to events like Black Friday,” says Becky Tasker, a managing analyst on Adobe Digital Insights, which indicates shoppers were using their smartphones as a “planning tool,” scanning for deals before the event and then making the purchase, either via mobile, desktop, or in-person, the day of the sale.

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Mobile and tablets accounted for 50% of web visits during the 2016 holiday season, driving 31% of purchases and generating $28.43 billion in revenue (up 23% from last year).

These figures serve as a reminder on the importance of building an “integrated strategy” for your business, says Tasker. The easier you make it for consumers to browse, plan, and purchase items across a variety of devices, the more you stand to gain from the national shift to online shopping.

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