• Download Image

    .JPG .PNG
  • Embed Chart

  • Share Chart


Online Holiday sales up 24 percent, as average shopper spends $318 online

by Ken Cassar - May 16, 2019

Image credit:

With our Thanksgiving meals safely digested and gym membership cards dusted off, it’s time that we feast on Rakuten Intelligence’s first helping of 2018 holiday season online sales data. 


At the highest level, the holiday online shopping season is off to a sizzling start in 2018, with total sales up 24 percent from 2017. Black Friday was (as has been the case since 1995, anyway) the biggest online sales day ever, with sales 19 percent higher than Black Friday 2017 and 17 percent higher than Cyber Monday 2017.  


In the chart below, which describes daily sales across all merchants, we can see the strength of Black Friday clearly, but the Black Friday sales spike hides another trend that has crept up on us: consumers start their online holiday shopping earlier each year, prodded by merchants which offer online deals earlier every year, hoping to beat competitors to the punch (or, to at least not get sucker-punched by eager competitors). This is illustrated by the fact that the biggest online sales day EVER actually dragged down holiday-to-date performance.

For the holiday season through November 24, sales have been principally driven by growth in spend per buyer, which is 16 percent higher than 2017 at the same point, now standing at $318 spent per online buyer across all merchants and all categories. We continue to see modest growth in the number of online holiday buyers, up 7 percent from 2017.  

Finally, when we drill into merchant specific data, we see that Amazon, not surprisingly, has a substantial lead over the rest of the field, with 28 percent of sales (this excludes Amazon Prime Now and Amazon Fresh), compared with 30 percent share at this time last year. The field is beginning to narrow the gap with Amazon, but there is still a long way to go, as Amazon.com’s share is seven times larger than the next biggest holiday performer, Best Buy.  Historically, Thanksgiving weekend represents Amazon’s lowest share point of the year as the volume of brick and mortar competitors’ TV and newspaper circular advertising dominates.

Looking forward, here's what we expect to see

- Cyber Monday online sales levels will be very close to Black Friday, but may not top Black Friday sales as has been the case every year since the creation of Black Friday in 2005. The novelty of a cyber-shopping holiday may wane as our traditional shopping holidays shift online.

- With all retailers delivering packages reliably faster, we should expect to see an increasing share of online sales coming later in the season, peaking early in the week of December 17th. 

- Amazon’s share will grow as we get closer to Christmas and Amazon Prime’s consumer equity manifests itself.

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.