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Cyber Monday Traffic Grows 28% Despite Late Day Waning

Cyber Monday wraps up just behind Black Friday and Thanksgiving

And that's a wrap for Cyber Monday.  As predicted, we peaked just before 9:00 PM EST with both the east coast and west coast online in the evening, and 28% year over year growth.  However we failed to predict that Thanksgiving would still hold the highest peak traffic rate of the weekend at 1.9M pv/min, Black Friday would drive more traffic at 90.9 billion page views for the day, and Cyber Monday would trail in growth behind both days.  Enthusiasm for the deals appeared to wane after an initial flurry of activity, with growth rates bottoming out by midnight EST.   

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28% growth is certainly nothing to sniff at.  In 2010 Cyber Monday drove the highest Conversion Index of the long weekend, so is still likely to be the single largest revenue day of the season this year. If conversions do stay high this year, the late evening waning is unlikely to be much of a concern for retailers.  We'll eagerly await the latest comScore data for the results.

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Early Promotional Activity drives High Growth Throughout Week

The sheer volume of promotional activity - including new mobile and social only deals and daily deal sites like Groupon and Living Social - kicked off the holiday season much earlier this year.  On Monday of last week, traffic was already trending higher.  In fact, last Monday drove 37% higher traffic than the same day in 2010. 

Looking at total traffic (an estimate of total page views calculated based on average rates per hour), Black Friday tops the rankings, followed by Thanksgiving and Cyber Monday.  Thanksgiving had the strongest traffic growth at 71% year over year, however Black Friday just slightly edges out Thanksgiving in terms of total traffic.

Another bright spot on the holiday shopping calendar this year is the Wednesday before Thanksgiving.  With 51% growth, and nearly 70 billion page views, it sits just behind the big three.  We reviewed in an earlier post that Wednesday was our first significant spike in mobile activity, with shoppers using their phones as they left work.

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Evening is "Sofa Shoppers" Favorite Time to Shop

They came online late night Thanksgiving to research deals; they then came online early on Black Friday, and in the evening on Cyber Monday, to take advantage of those deals.  With the exception of that Black Friday promotion-driven midnight peak, the Couch Commerce shoppers came online in the evening, after work, with all other days reaching their daily peak between 8:00 PM and 10:00 PM.

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What's Next?

We'll continue to watch the traffic trends throughout the holiday season, leading up to the free shipping day on December 16th.  I also plan to release an updated Conversion Index based on 2011 data.  And finally, we'll step out of North America and take a look at the holiday traffic trends in Europe.

I'd love to hear your comments on Cyber Monday's traffic trailing behind Black Friday this year.  What did you see throughout the weekend that drove this new shift?

Lelah Manz is Chief Strategist, Commerce for Akamai