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Reasons to be Bullish? Thanksgiving Traffic Explodes (Part 4 of 'Live on the Front Lines of the Holiday Shopping Season')

As my colleague Mithu just said to me, "don't jinx it!"  Given it's still early in the weekend, I'm trying my very best to keep my enthusiasm in check.  However the traffic levels we saw over the past 48 hours - and anecdotal data from our Holiday Tiger Team - have me feeling very bullish about our retail customers' success this holiday weekend.

Here's a rundown of the most interesting data points thus far ...

Thanksgiving Day Traffic up 70% over 2010

Last year, Thanksgiving Day clocked in with the highest revenue growth over 2009 of any day during the holiday shopping season, with comScore reporting 28% year over year growth.  With Akamai retail traffic up 76% on average, and 74% at peak at 9:00 PM EST, there are strong indications that Thanksgiving will emerge once again as the star of the holiday shopping weekend.  If we assume the same conversion index (see Part 2 of this holiday blog series) then Thanksgiving Day could exceed $700 million, surpassing Black Friday online totals last year.  The open question yet to be answered - are there more browsers than buyers this year?  If my family's living room, scattered with newspaper ads and iPads for research is any indication, this might be the case.
This is indeed the Season of Mobile

The moment we all left our offices on Wednesday, mobile traffic skyrocketed.  In the chart below, I've taken a snapshot of 30 of our IR100 retailer's mobile sites to compare mobile retail traffic trends with overall retail traffic.  The peak for mobile traffic is about 4X the rolling 4 day average, versus 2.6x for the overall retail index.

Web traffic.PNG

The Online Shopping Season Kicked in Early

Nearly as strong as the Thanksgiving kick on it's own, the week has trended much higher than last year in general.  With Total Page Views (an estimate calculated based on hourly page view per minute data points) up 60% between Tuesday and Thanksgiving.


A Nod to the Akamai Holiday Tiger Team

At work, at this very moment, is a team of over 50 services and support retail and security technical gurus.  They are on call throughout the weekend, in some cases dedicated to our larger customers, others on standby in the event origin load troubles strike under the peak load for those who are not yet customers.  Near and dear to my heart - I just left the team myself - I've watched firsthand as this stellar team works hand in hand with our customers to ensure their sites are fast and available.   With a year of preparation behind us, its an amazing time to watch the best of our people and technology come into action.

In the center of the action, they also have their ears to the ground.  And the rumblings from our retail customers so far are not just good, but great.  An indication that perhaps my bullish tendencies may not be overly optimistic after all.

Cheers to the tiger team (and hopefully a few more hours of sleep tonight) and the continuing success of our customers.  And ... Happy Black Friday shopping!

Lelah Manz is Chief Strategist, Commerce for Akamai