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The holiday shopping season is off to a better start than many expected, Signify Holiday Pulse data shows

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Cover of Signifyd's State of Commerce 2022 report

It would be a stretch to say that after a better-than-expected Cyber Week the uncertainty surrounding the 2022 holiday shopping season has disappeared.

But better-than-expected beats worse-than-expected and November left little doubt that online retailers have reason for optimism after a month in which shoppers showed they are determined to work their way through their holiday gift lists. 

Ecommerce sales were up 8% over last year during the opening month of retail’s most crucial shopping season, according to the Signifyd Holiday Season Pulse Tracker. The increase was powered by a positive Cyber Five weekend that saw spending rise 11% over last year’s mark. In fact, 26 of 30 days in November registered sales equal to or higher than the same day the previous year, according to Signifyd’s data.

Year-over-year change in holiday sales for the month of November

 

Online sales  +8%
Average order value -2%
Fraud pressure  +40%

Behind the attention-grabbing overall sales numbers, the data tells the story of how consumers’ habits are shifting in the face of higher prices for food, gas and some other essentials. Average ecommerce order value — or the amount spent on each shopping trip — was down about 2% for the month.

The lower spending per order could be a sign that shoppers are spreading out their outlay to better manage tight household budgets. 

Share by day of Cyber 5 sales 2022 vs 2021

 

2021 2022
Thanksgiving 13.6% 13.0%
Black Friday 28.9% 28.8%
Saturday 15.2% 15.6%
Sunday 15.3% 15.6%
Cyber Monday 27.0% 27.0%

 

Even so, the pull of tradition was undeniable. When holiday shopping’s prime time rolled around — the five days beginning with Thanksgiving and ending with Cyber Monday — consumers more closely followed their historical patterns. During Cyber Week, average order value (AOV) reversed course. Rather than falling below 2021 as it did for the vast majority of November, average order value was up 1.5% during Cyber Week — modest, but significant at a time when consumers have told pollsters they are paring back their spending. 

Cyber 5 AOV 2022 year-over-year comparison with Cyber 5 2021

 

Thanksgiving +0.3%
Black Friday +2.2%
Saturday +3%
Sunday +1.6%
Cyber Monday +0.6%

Discounts ruled especially during Cyber Week

Not only was the average spent per order up; the number of orders was up — markedly. Merchants saw a 9% year-over-year increase in orders over the Cyber Five, according to Signifyd data.  

Cyber 5 2022 year-over-year comparison with Cyber 5 2021

 

Online sales  +11%
Average order value +1.5%
Order count  +9%
Product volume  +7%
Fraud pressure +24%
Sales (GMV) with discount code applied +22%

 

November 2022 showed that consumers are determined to fulfill the holidays of their dreams and of the dreams of those whom they love — inflation or not. The use of discount codes was prevalent all month and exploded in the final days, led by Cyber Week. 

GMV with discount code applied 2022 vs. 2021 

 

Thanksgiving +18%
Black Friday  +21%
Saturday +29%
Sunday  +29%
Cyber Monday  +17%

The portion of sales with a discount code applied during the Cyber Five was 23% higher than a year ago. The liberal use of discount codes contributed to a 7% year-over-year increase in the number of products sold this Cyber Week. The power of a discount was evident in Signifyd’s data: During Cyber Week, sales with a discount applied grew at a rate three times that of sales without a discount. 

As always, the story varies by retail vertical

A popular holiday 2022 observation was evident in Signfyd’s November data. The sale of Luxury Goods was up 29% for the month over last year. The category was the sales leader during Cyber Week, as well, finishing up a whopping 37% year over year. 

Cyber 5 2022 top performing categories sales compared to 2021 performance

 

Luxury  +37%
Grocery & Household Goods +27%
Beauty and Cosmetics +15%
Fashion Apparel and Luggage +14%
Collectibles  +11%

And, as always, some were looking to take advantage

Fraud was also a story in November as professional criminal rings looked to take advantage of the holiday spike in orders, the increased stress for retail workers and retailer leaders’ determination to fill as many online orders as possible during the time of year that is the richest in potential. 

Fraud pressure was up 40% in November over last November with fraudsters most intently targeting Collectibles, Luxury Goods and Fashion, Apparel & Luggage. Signifyd defines fraud pressure as the fluctuation in the number of transactions that Signifyd machine learning models deem very risky.

Cyber 5 Fraud pressure 2022 year-over-year comparison with Black Friday 2021

 

Thanksgiving +82%
Black Friday +25%
Saturday +35%
Sunday +29%
Cyber Monday -9%

During Cyber Week, fraud pressure was significant, up 24% for the five days, peaking on Thanksgiving at 82% and reaching its low — a 9% year-over-year drop — on Cyber Monday. 

Shoppers are consumers, but also humans

Beyond the major headlines, life in November was lived out in the data. It’s always good to remember that behind the numbers — the increased spending, the scramble for discounts, the decision to stretch a bit in order to get that perfect present — are humans with all their human traits. 

Cyber 5 sales 2022 compared to Cyber 5 2021

 

Thanksgiving +5%
Black Friday +9%
Saturday +14%
Sunday +14%
Cyber Monday +11%

A look at data from Cyber Week showed that U.S. consumers masterfully navigated the pull of two powerful Thanksgiving Day traditions — shopping and watching NFL football. Multitasking, naturally, was the answer.

 Signifyd data shows that transaction volume on Thanksgiving peaked between 9:45 p.m. and 10 p.m. EST, which coincided with halftime of the prime-time New England Patriots vs. the Minnesota Vikings game. Too stuffed to grab a halftime sandwich? Why not grab that Sonos wireless speaker your significant other has been hinting about? Not only did the break from football push sales higher, but mobile transactions for the day also peaked during the halftime show. 

No need to leave the couch. 

Human needs are universal or at least global

Consumers in the UK exercised their own form of multitasking, according to Signifyd data. While the U.S. appears to have successfully exported the tradition of Black Friday shopping to our fellow earthlings across the Atlantic, we were not considerate enough to send the typical day off of work along with it.  

That leaves UK consumers having to weave their Friday shopping into their work days. The region’s consumers have got this. For two years straight now, Black Friday ecommerce sales in the UK peaked between noon and 12:15 p.m.

 It’s shopping time. Lunch can wait. 

Photo by Getty Images


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Mike Cassidy

Mike Cassidy

Mike is the head of storytelling at Signifyd. A former journalist and a retail geek, he covers ecommerce and the way technology is transforming digital commerce. Contact him at mike.cassidy@signifyd.com.