Please note: Our 2009 prediction can be found HERE
(Click image above to enlarge)
There are a number of obvious advantages to shopping online. Studies in 2008 predicted that more than ever, people would shop online as opposed to hopping in their gas guzzlers to hunt for deals at brick and mortar retailers. According to the National Retail Federation, traditional retail sales were predicted to increase by only 3.5%, marking the slowest growth rate in six years. Although the growth rate for online sales wasn’t as high as previous years, 2008 still saw a record breaking day.
Black Friday, Cyber Monday and the Unnamed Day of Biggest Online Sales
A moniker has yet to be given to the biggest day of online sales, as it's a bit harder to define than those days that have received some increasingly popular nicknames. Black Friday, the day after Thanksgiving in the United States, is labeled as the start of the traditional shopping season and is one of the busiest retail shopping days of the year. Cyber Monday refers to the Monday immediately following Thanksgiving and is the online equivalent of Black Friday, marking the start of the online holiday shopping season. Then there is "the biggest day of online sales". This day became a record breaker this year yet again with $887 million spent online in 2008, topping the previous year’s total of $881 million.
(For past and recent sales data for Black Friday and Cyber Monday, see: Holiday Sales: When Will Your Site See its Peak Day? (*2008 Updates))
The Past Presents the Future – Predicting Online's Biggest Day
Estimating a single day of highest online sales proves to be a bit trickier then estimating the total amount of sales. For example, an estimate of $44 billion in total online sales (which was made by Forrester Research for holiday sales in November and December of 2008) can be reached by meeting a dollar amount within a fluctuation of $999.9 million, give or take. In looking at the data we’ve collected in the chart above, you can see that making a prediction for 2006 would have been easy: "It will fall on the second Monday before Christmas." The actual date, however, took the first step at deviating away from the norm by falling on a Wednesday instead. With fluctuations in traditional patterns, forecasters are becoming less likely to voice their opinions as to when this big day may occur.
Using only seven years of data (as there are no searchable records for largest days prior to 2000), there is a chance that future big days will not follow past trends. From 2000-2007, the biggest day of online shopping fell on a Monday, with the second Monday before Christmas marking the largest shopping day six years running. As seen in the chart above, the number of days between the biggest online shopping day and Christmas Day has increased on average, with only six days starting in 2000 and over twice as many in 2007. This also reiterates the fact that on average, consumers are doing their online shopping earlier year after year. The one instance where the number actually fell instead of rising was a rare case when, for the first time in seven years, the largest day of online sales came on a Wednesday in 2006.
Using the data available from 2000-2007, the biggest day of online sales for 2008 had an 86% chance of both falling on a Monday, and having an increase in the number of days between itself and Christmas. Although I predicted the big day of online sales would be on December 8th (see: Biggest Online Sales Day Near), the actual day fell one day later on Tuesday, December 9th. So when will 2009 see it's big day? Although there's no way to make an exact prediction, it's safe to say that online store owners should be prepared for an increase in sales sooner than ever!
Total Sales for The Biggest Online Shopping Days of Years Past
2006 - Wednesday, December 13th - $666.9 million
2007 - Monday, December 10th - $881 million
2008 - Tuesday, December 9th - $887 million
Stacie Leonard, Volusion