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2015 Holiday Shopping Predictions for Retailers

We're gearing up for some of the busiest days of the holiday season and that means we're starting to make some predictions around consumer shopping behavior and what retailers can expect to see this year. 

Last year around this same time, we saw an early start to the shopping season, evidenced by an uptick in activity starting as early as Nov. 2. The latest American Express Spending & Saving Tracker supports this prediction, stating that just under 45 percent of consumers plan to shop on Black Friday and another 47 percent say they will shop on Cyber Monday. Similarly, Research from the National Retail Federation (NRF) affirms that in 2014 the estimated number of Cyber Monday shoppers was 127 million, with the number of people who shopped on Black Friday at 87 million.

According to NRF'S CEO and president, people are starting their holiday shopping earlier because retailers began providing holiday discounts earlier and consumers don't have to wait to get good deals. During the recession, Black Friday deals were critically important to consumers, but now the economy is improving and consumers are more savvy and sophisticated than ever before. While Cyber Monday and Black Friday will continue to be very popular shopping days, retailers should also be prepared for an uptick in early shopping activity again this year. The NRF's 2015 Holiday Planning Playbook supported this with 2014 data showing that nearly one third of consumers started holiday shopping in October.

As research shows, mobile shopping will continue to grow. We've documented slight mobile growth year-over-year, particularly in the popular shopping days between Thanksgiving and Cyber Monday. For example, according to device usage data for a portion of Akamai's retail customers, 35 percent of shopping activity came from mobile devices in 2013. In 2014, mobile usage accounted for 37 percent of traffic activity. While consumers become increasingly comfortable with making mobile purchases, retailers are getting smarter about how they improve the ecommerce experience and integrate it into in-store browsing. In a 2015 report from Deloitte, they cited the increasing impact of digital on in-store sales which has grown by more than 10% per year since 2012. And mobile as a sub-set has gone from influencing $0.16 trillion to nearly $1 trillion - that's roughly 500% growth from 2012 to 2014. We fully expect mobile and all digital to continue expanding its impact on in-store sales in 2015 and beyond. Interestingly, the same report cites that 45% of consumers feel digital makes shopping easier. This year that will start to change as more retailers take cues from companies like Macy's, Kohl's and others who've put significant resources and effort into tying the offline and online experience together. See our recent (blog/article) which talks more about this.

As online shopping becomes more personal, security grows as a concern - both for consumers and retailers. In past years, we have seen attacks grow by as many as five times on days like Black Friday. Retailers of all sizes must remain vigilant and prepare for increased attack traffic again this year. 

Keep an eye on this blog and our @Akamai Twitter handle and follow the industry's #HolidayReadiness hashtag for more insights and real-time holiday traffic updates.

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