Jumpshot’s Cyber 5 Forecast: What To Expect from Black Friday & Cyber Monday 2019

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The holiday season is one of the most interesting and lucrative times of the year for retailers, which is why we analyzed historical digital transactions from Jumpshot’s data to forecast this year’s trends in holiday shopping. 

A Brief History of Black Friday and Cyber Monday

Before we dive into this year’s holiday season, let’s first consider the phenomena that is Black Friday, as well as its digital sister, Cyber Monday.

In the 1950s, it became generally accepted that the day after Thanksgiving was the unofficial start of the holiday shopping season, and by the 1960s, the first media accounts of bustling crowds can be found.  But it wasn’t until the 1980s that the name “Black Friday” really went mainstream, marking the time of year that retailers finally go “into the black” of profitability after months of “red ink” losses.

Fast-forward 25 years and we have the creation of Cyber Monday to add to the eCommerce sales holiday list. Now, this crucial period is often called the “Cyber 5,” the days stretch from Thanksgiving through Cyber Monday.

Quantifying the “Cyber 5” Lift

For consumers, these holidays are great opportunities for savings.  For retailers, it represents a time of massive transaction increases that they must execute on effectively if their year is to be successful.  To quantify just how big an impact these holidays have, we compared daily transactions during Cyber 5 to a baseline of typical daily sales during Q3 of the same year.  We find the Cyber 5 lift is big and increasing — a lift of 296% in 2018, outpacing the 261% we saw in 2017. On three days in particular — Black Friday, Cyber Monday and “Overlooked Tuesday” — these retailers saw a 400% lift over Q3 baseline sales.

The Three Dominators: Amazon, Walmart, & Target

Because Amazon has such a high volume of digital transactions throughout the year, it simply won’t see the same percentage lifts as other retailers.  But in absolute terms, its holiday bump is still impressive. What does Amazon sell during the holidays? Well, a lot of portals into the Amazon ecosystem, include Alexa-enabled Echo Dots and Fire Stick televisions.  Interestingly, while much of the search traffic on Amazon throughout the year is unbranded, consumers increasingly search for brand names on Amazon during Cyber 5. 

Thanksgiving and Black Friday are particularly big shopping days for Walmart, even overtaking Amazon in some key categories such as televisions on those days.  Walmart’s momentum is also evident in search trends. Of all the Google searches using the terms “Black Friday” or “Cyber Monday” during 2018, “Walmart Black Friday 2018” was at the top of the list, while searches including Amazon, Target and Best Buy have all fallen.

Target begins with a smaller base of sales, but got a huge lift of 715% in 2018, with its peak on Cyber Monday. As with Amazon and Walmart, Target sees a shift away from utilitarian products and unbranded searches to more of a focus on brands and hot products, with spikes for iPads, Google Chromecasts, The Oregon Trail Game, and Google Home Mini.

Beyond Amazon, Walmart, and Target

Beyond these big three retailers, the importance of Cyber 5 grows even more.  Generally speaking, smaller retailers will get bigger holiday boosts, at least in percentage terms.  Tech-focused sites like GameStop and Best Buy get particularly large boosts, while sites that are less “gift-focused” (like Chewy and Walgreens) tend to get smaller boosts.  In some cases, big Cyber 5 boosts are less a sign of seasonal strength, and more a sign of desperation from struggling retailers.

Looking Ahead: Cyber 5 Predictions 

Jumpshot data reveals that the impact of Cyber 5 continues to grow, and consumer spending shows little sign of slowing down.  Combined, we expect these factors and others to fuel 10-15% eCommerce growth this holiday season, and headlines will abound about the “Biggest ___ Ever” (Black Friday, Cyber Monday, etc.).  Other headlines will focus on the strength of Walmart, the battle of the shipping wars, and the importance of omnichannel marketing (e.g., “click-and-collect” or “buy-online-and-pickup-in-store”).

Check out the full webinar, Jumpshot’s 2019 Holiday Outlook, for more predictions, trends to watch and outlook on the holiday shopping season. 

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