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Shopping Holidays

After the biggest Black Friday ever, a soft week in online holiday sales

by Ken Cassar - May 16, 2019

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In the five days since Cyber Monday 2018, online sales across all merchants have slipped slightly, with year-to-year growth of just 16 percent. As a result, our year to date holiday sales growth has clicked down a point, to just 20 percent from 2017, compared with the 21 percent growth rate we measured through Cyber Monday.

Walmart and Amazon post gains as the season advances

A modest sales deceleration for five days is probably nothing for retailers to be particularly concerned with. Walmart, in particular, is likely thrilled with the holiday to date sales performance they’ve seen, with sales up 59 percent from 2017, powered by strength at both Walmart.com and Walmart Grocery.  


Amazon’s holiday season-to-date share is strengthening, as expected, as we get farther from Cyber Weekend (Thanksgiving through Cyber Monday). Amazon (excluding Amazon Fresh and Prime Now) now commands 30 percent of online sales, and we expect that its daily share will move closer to 50 percent as we approach the last big online selling days, which will undoubtedly come on December 17thand 18ththis year.  


Brick and mortar retailers are likely preparing aggressive pushes for click-and-carry sales beginning the week of December 17th running through Christmas Eve as they become more confident in their ability to execute and as they increasingly come to understand how important a competitive differentiator click-and-carry is for them.

Apparel is the big driver of growth, thus far

While Electronics has been, and continues to be the largest online category, in 2018 holiday-to-date Apparel has been the biggest driver of growth, accounting for 22 percent of online growth from 2017 to 2018 (November 1 – November 30th). This is a function of the size of the category (second largest behind Electronics) and of the growth of the category, which is 8 points higher than Electronics for the holiday season-to-date. Growth in the online food category is interesting, accounting for 11 percent of holiday growth in a category that has historically been modest online. This is consistent with the growth that we’ve seen in this category for the past two years, powered by the growing availability of full-assortment grocery. So, worry not, you will probably not be getting groceries for your Hanukah or Christmas gifts this year.

Looking ahead: click-and-carry and delivering on the last-minute holiday rush

At different stages during a typical holiday season, our focus shifts to different retail departments. Merchants are always critical, ensuring that they’ve got the right products at the right price. Early in the holiday season, advertising is paramount, as retailers spend significantly to drive shoppers to their stores, both online and offline. As we move into the final stage of the online holiday shopping season, the focus shifts to logistics: how close to Christmas can retailers push their delivery thresholds, and are they able to keep their commitments? This year, retailers’ ability to execute on click-and-carry orders will be another critical factor that will undoubtedly cause some lost sleep amongst Store Operations executives, and amongst rank-and-file store employees.  


Look to this space next week for insights on how retailers have done thus far on that measure.  

Until then, happy shopping.

About this data

With a panel of over 5.5 million online shoppers, Rakuten Intelligence gives the most detailed, and accurate digital commerce data available, and is reported daily.

Rakuten Intelligence is the only service to measure digital commerce directly from the consumer, across all retailers, at the item level, and over time. Our retailer-independent methodology precisely measures commerce as it happens. By extracting detailed information from hundreds of millions of aggregated and anonymized e-receipts, Rakuten Intelligence can map the entire Purchase Graph, connecting each and every consumer to all their purchases.

Rakuten Intelligence gets its data from e-receipts – not a browser, app or software installed by the end-user – so its measurement reflects comprehensive shopping behavior across multiple devices, over time, which are key in an increasingly omnichannel retail world. Rakuten Intelligence is the exclusive e-commerce data provider for NPD’s Checkout Tracking e-commerce service.