"Historic" Cyber Monday Is "Largest Online Sales Day In History" With $6.6 Billion In US Sales

This holiday shopping season is off to a "historic" start, or at least its online version, after Cyber Monday posted the largest-ever online sales day in history as U.S. Consumers purchased a record $6.59 billion online, Adobe estimated late on Monday, with smartphone purchases breaking a record with $1.59 billion in sales. 

As reported previously, a record $5.03 billion was spent online during Black Friday, an increase of 17% when compared with last year. Top-selling items that day included the Nintendo Switch, Hatchimals, L.O.L. Surprise and ride-on cars for kids. Meanwhile, according to CNBC, "Small Business Saturday and Sunday" delivered a combined $5.12 billion in online sales, up 10% from a year ago, Adobe added.

Top items for purchasing, according to Shopify, are Apparel, Accessories and Housewares (in that order). The “cyber” of Cyber Monday is more related to how you shop than what you shop for: Electronics is the sixth-most-popular category for shopping today, between makeup and food. Adobe, meanwhile, highlights toys, whose prices are down 18.8 percent since October; computers (discounted 14.7 percent) and TVs (21.1 percent discounted).

Adobe notes that best-selling electronics include many of the usual suspects: Google Chromecast, Apple iPads, Samsung Tablets, Apple AirPods, and Sony Playstation VR. Games and consoles include Super Mario Odyssey, Nintendo Switch and Microsoft Xbox One X.

Overall, Adobe said traffic was up 11.9% for the day vs a season average of 5.7%. As with other days in the long weekend, mobile has been very much a part of the story: 47.4% of visits (39.9 percent smartphones, the rest tablets), and 33.1% of revenues.

It was not immediately clear how big the offsetting decline in traditional, brick and mortar retailers was.

Adobe measures 80% of online transactions from 100 major U.S. retailers. The firm said that that November has so far racked up $50 billion in online revenue, up 16.8% year-on-year. 2017, Adobe projects, will be the first year to break $100 billion in online sales, which is actually a downward revision from Adobe’s previous figure of $107.4 billion. (As a point of comparison, online sales in the US reached $94.4 billion for the holiday season in 2016.)

Yet despite the blockbuster number, Cyber Monday was the only day in the last five — the official start of the holiday shopping period that kicks off with the Thanksgiving long weekend, including Black Friday —  that sales totals did exceed Adobe’s estimates. In fact, they fell just slightly short of the $6.6 billion it predicted, according to TechCrunch.  

Furthermore, the growth is now entirely, and literally, in the palm of your hand: driving clicks and sales overall this holiday season have been smartphones and other mobile devices, as purchases made from desktop computers haven't been as strong. "People are really figuring out how to use their mobile devices," Mickey Mericle, vice president of Adobe's Marketing and Insights division, told CNBC's "Squawk Alley" Monday afternoon. "And retailers are figuring out how to optimize ... for mobile," she added. "We're seeing the two come together."

As TechCrunch adds, Cyber Monday is traditionally an especially strong day for buying online. But interestingly, it seems that perhaps the most enthusiastic buyers came earlier in the weekend, leading to a Cyber Monday that broke records but still was perhaps not as powerful as initially expected. 

Still, as the website notes, what is notable in the mobile story is that of smartphone-based browsing and purchases. The record-high of $1.59 billion in sales made via smartphones was a whopping 39.2% year-on-year increase: an outsized number compared to the rest of the increases across the board that ran between 10 and 20% .

A breakdown by platform shows some notable trends: iOS, and the iPhone,  continues to lead ahead of Android when it comes to monetizing. Average order values on iOS devices was $123. On Android devices it was $110.

“Shopping and buying on smartphones is becoming the new norm and can be attributed to continued optimizations in the retail experience on mobile devices and platforms,” said Mickey Mericle, vice president, Marketing and Customer Insights at Adobe, in a statement. “Consumers are also becoming more savvy and efficient online shoppers. People increasingly know where to find the best deals and what they want to purchase, which results in less price matching behavior typically done on desktops. Millennials were likely another reason for the dramatic growth in mobile, with 75 percent expecting to shop via their smartphone.”

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Overall, the season has been record-breaking, both in terms of total sales and how shoppers are making a big shift to mobile to browse and buy. Thanksgiving generated $2.87 billion in sales, Black Friday $5.03 billion, and “Small Business Saturday” (the latest ‘named’ shopping holiday) brought in $2.82 billion (no name yet, and hence no tracking, for Sunday), all significant rises year-on-year. On those days, mobile devices accounted for between 46 and 54% of all site visits, and between 30 and 37% of all sales, said Adobe, the biggest proportion yet.

And, as expected Amazon accounts for the most sales of any single platform. According to Hitwise, the e-commerce giant accounted for 45.1% and 54.9% of all transactions respectively on Thanksgiving and Black Friday. Hitwise puts the actual numbers at 5.6 million and 7.1 million transactions. 

Some further perspective: Shopify is tracking that there are around $280,000 in sales being made every minute (and in the time I’ve been writing, the number has shot up by about $20,000). As a point of comparison, Shopify noted that at its peak, this year’s Black Friday was generating $1 million in sales each minute.

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In light of these numbers, it is perhaps not surprising that on Tuesday morning Goldman Sachs announced that it was raising its Amazon price target from $1,300 to a street high $1,450, if not so much for the low-margin retail business as much as the company's cloud offering.

From Goldman: