holiday analysis

2017 Holiday Recap

The holiday season is the largest shopping season of the year. People are bustling about, buying presents for all of their friends and family, and businesses thrive.

It's also the perfect time of year to dedicate a larger spend towards your digital advertising and SEM. After all, the more you advertise during a time people are already looking to buy, the greater your ROI.

But in order to ensure we always make the right recommendations for our clients during the holiday season, we like to test some things, gather data from the previous holiday season, and determine where advertising dollars will be best spent.

And that's exactly what we did during the 2017 holiday season. We made several predictions on how we thought consumer spending would pan out, gathered our data at the end, and found results to see if our predictions were right.

Before We Jump Into the Results, Let's Go Over What Our Predicted Trends for The 2017 Holiday Shopping Season Were.

  1. We predicted the holiday shopping season would start earlier—around October.
  2. We predicted that mobile usage would increase and become hyper-important for product discovery. Although we speculated that desktop would remain dominant for actually converting users and making the sale.
  3. Price matters! We predicted that discounts and sale promotions would drive more engagement with businesses during the holidays.

We determined the predictions based on patterns and trends we've seen throughout the year and past holiday seasons.

Here were our results.

1. Holiday Season

We predicted that holiday shopping would begin as early as October. Although a lot of us in October are still deciding what costume to wear for Halloween or what to cook for Thanksgiving, we assumed many families would be planning for Christmas.

It turns out; it wasn't as many families as we thought.

Increased search query and traffic growth didn't begin until closer to early November.

2. Mobile Use

Mobile usage increased on Bing by 26% in November and 14% in December. This increase was largely driven by top deal days like Black Friday.

As evidenced by the graph, mobile overtook desktop by a higher percentage in every single product category in 2017 as compared with 2016. 

And, as predicted, desktop still took the cake with actually making the sale. Overall, there was a 14.2% increase in converting smartphone traffic in 2017, but it still doesn't compare to desktop sales.

$12.6 billion of sales were completed on desktop compared to $4.9 billion on smartphones and $2.1 billion on tablets. Revenue from mobile devices only made up about 33% of total online holiday revenue.

3. Sale Promotions

For this one, we're going to look mostly at stats from the five major shopping days (i.e., Thanksgiving, Black Friday, Small Business Saturday, Super Sunday, and Cyber Monday). Holiday sales during this time period exceeded expectations by a long shot.

In fact, there was a 15.2% increase in total sales, which added up to $19.6 billion.

Overall, there was a 5.5% increase throughout the entire holiday season, earning its spot as the largest increase in holiday retail sales since 2010.

Holiday Prediction Recap

In the end, we scored two out of three on our holiday season predictions, which isn't too shabby. Although the holiday season didn’t start as early as predicted, our predictions about mobile and sales were pretty accurate. It’s important to understand trends and use data to help plan for the future.

Curious how we could help your business generate sales throughout 2018? Read our latest Retail Trends Report to recap the important updates that impacted digital marketing in 2017 along with the data and trends to help you drive better performance in 2018.

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