The Big Picture: Online Retail Holiday Traffic

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Hitwise has produced Hourly Peak Week Trends: What to Look Out For on Black Friday & Cyber Monday 2017. You can download the whole report here.

A Quick Look

To start, let’s take a look at total traffic to the Hitwise Retail 500 over the last few holiday seasons. Retailers received 11.7 billion visits during the 2016 peak period, a 2% increase from the previous season. 2016 holiday growth was noticeably slower in comparison to the major traffic surge seen between 2014 and 2015, which showed a 25% year-on-year jump.

However, the 2016 slowdown may not be a reflection of all retailers — it was likely skewed by Amazon, who saw a huge traffic increase year-on-year in the 2015 peak season, followed by relatively flat year-on-year growth in 2016. Considering Amazon pulled nearly a third of traffic to the Hitwise Retail 500 in December, this likely affected overall industry growth.

“So far in 2017, we see early signs of traffic growth leading up to the holidays, suggesting it will be the biggest year on record,” says Rochelle Bailis, Global Director of Content at Hitwise (pictured top left)

Top Online Shopping Days

The top three shopping days of 2016 were Black Friday, Thanksgiving Day, followed by Cyber Monday. Interestingly, these three days have competed for first place over the years. In 2015, Thanksgiving unseated Cyber Monday as the top visitation day, then last holiday season Black Friday nabbed the top spot.

As seen below, Mondays pulled a lot of traffic in 2016, although retailers may find this effect less pronounced in 2017. In previous seasons, Mondays saw huge traffic spikes followed by an immediate dip, but this drop-off has become less distinct every year. More sustained traffic enables marketers to engage online shoppers all week before they head into stores on the weekend. The day after Christmas also remains a big traffic day, so be prepared to serve shoppers seeking post-holiday deals.

A final note on the calendar: there will be four Saturdays in December 2017, which will distribute shopping across more days than last year. December 23rd, Super Saturday, will be an incredibly important shopping day, particularly for last-minute gift cards.

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