The Online Rush Shopping Started Thanksgiving Evening
A custom Hitwise analysis of hourly shopping data during this year’s “peak week” (Thanksgiving Day through Cyber Monday) reveals how, when and where U.S. shoppers navigated the online retail space during the busiest shopping week of the year. Retailers can use this data to get a jump start on 2017 planning,” suggests John Fetto, senior analyst at Hitwise, a division of Connexity (pictured left). “And for many, that effort will begin before ringing in the new year.”
On Thanksgiving Day, the Hitwise Retail 500 sites received a total of 336 million visits which averages out to just under 14 million visits per hour overall. But an analysis of the hourly visits to the busiest sites revealed that late evening hours on Thanksgiving saw visits considerably higher than average. In fact, visits between 8PM and 11PM on Thanksgiving Day were more than 50% greater than the hourly average for that day. Amazon.com, for instance, received a full quarter (25%) of their Thanksgiving Day visits from 8PM onward. This tendency for shoppers to get a jump start on Black Friday shopping as soon as the dinner table is cleared is consistent with what Hitwise observed in 2015 as well.
The late Thanksgiving Day shopping surge continued throughout the night with higher than usual traffic observed between midnight and 6AM. On Black Friday, the top retail sites were busiest between 11AM and noon when visits were 52% higher than the daily hourly average. This is quite a different picture from what retailers saw on Thanksgiving and Cyber Monday, which both saw their busiest periods in the evening. Using Amazon.com as an example again, the site received only 20% of their Black Friday visits between 8PM and midnight while receiving a little over 23% of their daily visits between 11AM and 4PM. (On Thanksgiving Day, Amazon.com received just under 21% of their daily visits between 11AM and 4PM.)
In terms of hourly shopping distribution, Cyber Monday didn’t look altogether different from a typical weekday. Of course, visits were considerably higher. In fact, the Hitwise Retail 500 registered 329 million online visits this Cyber Monday, up from 204 million visits the Monday prior. Hitwise did observe a slightly greater than average share of online shopping occurring during the early morning hours of Cyber Monday, specifically between 6AM and 8AM—evidence that some Americans arose from a long weekend of shopping reinvigorated and ready for more.
Unlike Cyber Monday in 2015 when working hours received a greater than normal share of shopping activity, Hitwise observed that shopping sites in 2016 registered just average or a slightly below average share of daily visits between 9AM and 5PM. As with a typical weekday, online shopping on Cyber Monday was greatest during the evening hours, especially after 8PM when many parents put the kids to bed. Specifically, between 8PM and 10PM, the top retail sites received visits that were about 57% higher than the Cyber Monday hourly average. Amazon.com, which received more visits on Cyber Monday than any other day this year (96.8 million), actually received more visits between 8PM and 9PM on Cyber Monday than during any other single hourly period during all of peak week.