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ClickZ’s 2018 holiday season recap

Earlier this year, Adobe predicted that Americans would spend $107.9 billion online this holiday season. We had collectively blown that number out of the water, spending $110.6 billion by December 19. This marks the biggest online holiday shopping season ever, increasing 17.8% year-over-year.

We already broke down the biggest-ever Cyber Weekend, looking at Adobe’s comprehensive report based on more than 1 trillion retail site visits and speaking to the company’s director of retail industry strategy.

Now that the holidays are over, we’re looking back at the season overall.

The most monumental year for mobile commerce

Cyber Weekend was monumental for mobile commerce; Americans spent more than $2 billion on their smartphones on Cyber Monday alone. During those five days, mobile devices accounted for 65% of retail traffic.

That’s a bit higher than the seasonal average of 58.3%. However, this holiday season marks the first time that number was more than half. Additionally, mobile commerce was 57% higher than last year. Smartphones sales represented $33.3 billion — or about 30 % — of the total online sales this holiday season.

Paid search drives sales, while organic search declines

Paid search was the star of Cyber Monday, driving 25.1% of sales, a 7.4% YoY increase. It was noticeably higher than organic search (18.8%) and slightly lower than direct traffic (25.3%), which had decreased from 2017.

However, those figures weren’t indicative of the season at large. Looking over the past few weeks, direct traffic drove 27% of revenue. Meanwhile, the gap between paid and organic search was narrower throughout the whole holiday season, though the former grew 4.5% YoY while the latter decreased 3.1%.

The blend of brick-and-mortar and online shopping

While this holiday season was the biggest-ever for online shopping, of course, the overwhelming majority of sales still took place in physical stores. According to Mastercard data, Americans spent a whopping $850 billion between November 1 and Christmas Eve. Excluding cars, retail sales were 5.1% higher than 2017, the strongest increase in six years.

Consumers are increasingly blending brick-and-mortar with their online shopping. This was the biggest year for buying online and picking up in-store, which grew 47% YoY. More retailers are also centering their holiday marketing around these tactics. For example, Target sent Christmas Eve emails highlighting these options to appeal to last-minute shoppers.

Target brick and click

The state of ecommerce in the Equality State

In general, consumers in the Northeast are the biggest online shoppers. Residents of D.C. spend far more online than those in any other state; New Jersey, Massachusetts and New York are a very distant second, third and fourth place. On the other end of the spectrum are Mississippi, the state with the lowest median household income; Alaska and Hawaii, whose remote locations often incur extra shipping fees; and Wyoming.

However, those stats were thrown on their head this holiday season. Over the past month, Wyoming was home to the biggest ecommerce enthusiasts. Their average order value was $169, followed closely by $164 in Alaska and $162 in California.

Amazon’s happy holiday season

If we’re grading individual retailers on their performances throughout the holiday season, Amazon would be one of the clear winners. The ecommerce juggernaut broke its own sales record on Cyber Monday, while signing up tens of millions of new Prime members over the past few weeks.

It was also a hallmark year for Amazon devices. While Google Shopping data shows that speakers were once again among the hottest holiday gifts, Amazon sold “millions more” devices this year than it had in years past, particularly the Echo Dot. It can’t have hurt that Amazon also ranked first on Accenture’s list of retailers that did the best job delivering last-minute purchases before Christmas.

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