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UK retail failed this Christmas, but globally online grew 8% driven by mobile, study shows

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While UK retail may have taken a hit over the festive season, new research from Salesforce reveals that digital sales across the festive season actually grew 8% to $723 billion globally, driven by mobile.

The 2019 Holiday Shopping Report – which coincides with this year’s NRF 2020 this week – reveals the trends, data and insights brands and retailers need to prepare for the 2020 holiday shopping season and finds that a mixture of good old fashioned discounting and high tech AI helped drive sales.

According to the study, retailers pushed out discounts and promotions earlier than ever. In the run up to Cyber Week, digital traffic grew 13% over the same period in 2018.

More interestingly, AI powered search and product recommendations drove additional revenue for retailers this holiday season, as 10% of digital orders and 5% of digital revenue came from AI-powered recommendations.

While global digital revenue grew 15% to $143 billion, early season buying frenzy led to late season softness, however, with digital revenues falling 26% year on year during the week leading up to Christmas.

As a result, retailers with click and collect won later in the season. Retailers offering click and collect on their ecommerce sites saw 56% more active digital shoppers – someone who uses a site search, adds product to cart, starts a checkout or completes a transaction – in the last five days of the season.

Mobile reigns victorious – being the  number one device driving digital traffic and orders, finds the study. 

This is echoed by Adobe’s 2019 Holiday Recap report. Based on Adobe Analytics data, the industry saw a record-breaking holiday season (Nov – Dec) with online spending in the US totalling $142.5 billion, representing 13.1% growth YoY.

Smartphones accounted for 84% of last holiday season’s ecommerce growth, with consumer purchases on smartphones accounting for more than $50 billion in sales for the first time in addition to 58% of traffic to retail sites November through December (up 14% YoY).

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