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2015 Black Friday traffic spikes 109 percent over average, pre-holiday activity

The 2015 holiday shopping period lifted off with a bang, setting revenue records for the Thanksgiving weekend and indicating strong revenue trends for the holiday season.

Data from Akamai Retail Net Usage Index, a tool which monitors the company's retail customers' real-time website traffic in page views per minute, supported this trend, as the average page views per minute over the five-days was nearly 70 percent above the baseline.  In North America the highest spike was on Black Friday, a 109 percent increase, as people sought to avoid lines at the store and the general chaos associated with "traditional" Black Friday shopping. Thanksgiving day was a close second at an 80 percent increase over baseline. As digital takes more and more share from in-store shopping, industry research indicates that digital shopping activity will be spread out more evenly across the weekend and the entire holiday period. This better accommodates the family focused nature of the weekend, while still catering to shoppers' desire to find bargains.

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When looking more closely into the individual shopping days, we see some interesting patterns indicating when consumers shop online. Thanksgiving day's hourly breakdown showed lighter traffic in the afternoon, gradually ramping up starting at 3 p.m. EST, suggesting consumers were enjoying their Thanksgiving meals before jumping online to start their bargain hunting (which peaked at 10 p.m. EST). This is a different pattern to what we see on Black Friday and Cyber Monday, where more of the day was dedicated to the hunt. Both days started early, ramping quickly from about 6 a.m. EST and peaking between 11 a.m. EST and 1 p.m. EST - perhaps tying to some lunchtime shopping at work. Whereas Black Friday petered out from that peak, Cyber Monday saw another jump at 6 p.m. EST as consumers arrived home after work and continued through 9 p.m. EST at which point it started to decline.

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In Europe, we saw marked increases in traffic (page views per minute) on Black Friday - 50 percent higher than the baseline - indicating increasing participation in the once formerly U.S. only holiday shopping event. This is a trend that we and the broader industry expects to continue in subsequent years as retailers continue to globalize their brands and as consumers are more easily able to shop across borders. Cyber Monday participation was not as impactful, seeing only 23 percent increase over baseline across Europe.

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From an hourly perspective, we saw a pretty consistent trend of traffic ramping steadily from morning through evening over the four shopping days. The only oddities we saw were spikes at 9 a.m. GMT on both Saturday and Cyber Monday, where traffic jumped ~150 percent and then sank back to a growth pattern more in line with the other shopping days. We also saw a much earlier start to the shopping day on Black Friday as compared to Saturday to Monday as shoppers jumped online about two hours earlier to get on the bargains and sales on offer.

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According to most measures we've seen in the industry, this year's holiday weekend was a success overall, particularly in regard to digital commerce and its increasing impact on total retail revenue. We expect online sales to continue to contribute recording breaking revenue share over the remaining holiday shopping events in North America, Europe and Asia. And, we'll continue to track them all, sharing our insights, updates and more.

Note: Akamai's data is based on a sampling of the company's retail customers - it is not representative of Akamai's total traffic. Also, because the list grows and changes annually, year-over-year comparisons are not exact. Rather, the data is considered representative of trends and fluctuations in the eCommerce industry because of Akamai's significant customer base and insights into the activities on online retailers' websites.