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Despite the challenges of the pandemic, holiday sales in the US beat expectations thanks to a spike in online sales.

According to the research data analyzed and published by Finaria, retail sales grew by 3% during the period, against an expected 2.4%. The period, which typically begins on November 1, was 75 days long this time around. It extended from October 11 to December 24, 2020 as consumers started shopping earlier.

During the traditional holiday period, eCommerce sales surged by an impressive 47.2%. For the expanded 75-day period, eCommerce sales increased by 49%. eCommerce accounted for 19.7% of total retail sales during the period, up from 13.4% in the 2019 holiday season.

The home furniture sector saw the strongest growth with sales increasing by 16.2% compared to 2019. Online growth was even more pronounced, at 31% year-over-year (YoY). Similarly, the home improvement sector increased remarkably, with 14.1% growth overall and 79.7% online.

On the other hand, the apparel sector suffered a massive blow, with sales declining 19.1% overall. But there was a growth of 15.7% YoY for the apparel sector online.

With shoppers still reluctant to shop in person, department store sales saw a 10.2% decline. However, they posted online sales growth of 3.3% YoY.

Digital Shoppers in the US Spent $34 Billion During Cyber 5

Retail sales in the US have had a rollercoaster year, with a considerable improvement in the second half. According to data published by the US Census Bureau, January and February saw a 4.7% and 4.6% increase, respectively.

In March, there was a 5.7% decline, sinking further down to a 19.9% drop in April. The month of May saw a drop of 5.6% followed by a 1.1% improvement in June. There was a 2.7% growth in July, 2.6% in August, 5.4% in September and 8.5% in October.

In November, total retail sales in the US grew by 8.9% as digital shopping climbed to new highs.

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Over the five-day period between Thanksgiving and Cyber Monday (Cyber 5), digital shoppers in the US spent $34.36 billion according to Digital Commerce 360. The figure was 20.6% higher than the $28.49 billion reported in 2019 during a similar period.

Though that was a new record, it underperformed expectations. Digital Commerce 360 had projected a 34.9% YoY jump and Adobe Analytics had an optimistic 38.3% growth estimate.

Retailers offered early season promotions to encourage early shopping so as to avoid overburdening shipping carriers and warehouses.

Moreover, a study made by Salesforce supports this as it showed a digital revenue increase of 29% YoY during Cyber Week (Tuesday November 24 to Cyber Monday). In contrast, it showed a revenue uptick of only 10% on Cyber Monday.

Despite its slow YoY growth of 15.1%, Cyber Monday had the highest sales during Cyber 5, with US consumers spending $10.84 billion. It accounted for a 31.5% share of spending within the five-day duration, down from 33.1% in 2019.

Black Friday was second with $9.03 billion and Thanksgiving third with $5.11 billion. While Cyber Monday sales increased by $1.42 billion over 2019, Black Friday sales grew by $1.60 billion. Similarly, Black Friday’s share increased from 26.1% in 2019 to 26.3% in 2020.

Sunday saw consumers spend $4.7 billion while Small Business Saturday had the lowest sales, at $4.6 billion.

It is worth noting though that Saturday had the fastest growth of the five days. Online shoppers increased by 10 million (17%) from 2019, reaching 68.2 million. Additionally, digital revenue shot up by 32% from $3.6 billion in 2019.

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US Non-Store Consumer Spending Grows by 31% in November 2020

Overall, November 2020 was a record-breaking month in terms of non-store spending thanks to the strong digital spending reported during Cyber 5.

Citing the Commerce Department, Digital Commerce 360 shows that non-store consumer spending in the US grew by 31.3% YoY. That was the highest growth ever seen in November 2020, and the second-highest rate, behind June 2020’s 31.5%.

75.3% of all November retail sales took place online compared to 51.0% in October. For the first 11 months of 2020, non-store sales grew by 24.0% YoY. That was nearly double the growth rate of 13.9% reported in the first 11 months of 2019. Moreover, non-store gains accounted for 70.2% of all retail sales growth in the first 11 months of 2020.

The digital shopping frenzy carried into December with sales in the US growing by 36% during the first two weeks.

During the same period, global digital sales grew by 45% YoY with global digital orders peaking at 71% growth YoY on December 5, 2020.

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