New Global Data from 2020 Holiday Season website visits shows increased, prolonged online shopping

Data from 1.57 billion visits worldwide shows shoppers started well before Black Friday, with Electronics and Health & Beauty retailers driving most demand

Online retailers saw an 207% year-over-year increase in 2020 holiday season traffic, with online shoppers increasingly distributing their visits across the entire holiday season, according to new worldwide data from Queue-it based on a sample of 95 online retailers.

Queue-it provides retailers with a virtual waiting room to help them control traffic surges to their websites and apps. Although visitors only see a waiting room page when traffic overloads a website or app, Queue-it has insight into all traffic requests while the virtual waiting room is in place, giving a unique global perspective on holiday shopping traffic patterns.

Holiday Traffic Ballooned Week Before Black Friday

Starting November 19th, daily online visits more than doubled from an average of 22 million visits to 49 million through Black Week (the Monday before Black Friday through Cyber Monday).

“Online holiday shopping traffic has been peaking earlier and lasting longer,” says Queue-it Co-founder and Chief Communications Officer Camilla Ley Valentin. “Last year the shortened holiday season calendar put pressure to extend the shopping season. In 2020, the pandemic-related push towards ecommerce accelerated these trends even faster.”

Electronics Drove Most Demand, Followed by Health & Beauty

When broken down by category, Electronics retailers came away the clear winners in attracting digital foot traffic. Traffic to electronics retailers reached 477.5 million during the 2020 holiday season, making up 30% of all traffic during the period. Electronics retailers were especially popular during Black Week, when they received 36% of total online traffic.

Health & Beauty came in second, with 400.7 million visitors, or 25% of all traffic. Mass merchants/Department stores were third most popular, with 294.6 million visitors, constituting 18% of all 2020 holiday season traffic.

Black Week Traffic Increased 105% Over 2019, But Black Friday Remains Most Popular Single Day

In a year where many retailers shifted from “Black Friday” terminology towards terms like “Black Weekend” and “Black Week” or even “Black November” to highlight longer-running sales, online shoppers did increasingly visit retailers in the days before and after Black Friday.

In total, Queue-it data tracked 403.4 million visits during Black Week 2020, which represents a 105% increase over 2019, when normalized for a larger retailer sample in 2020. The increase was driven in part by outsized performance in the days leading up to Black Friday. Online traffic during Black Week remained elevated in the days surrounding Black Friday. This contrasts with previous years where Queue-it data showed weaker traffic leading up to Black Friday or a post-Black Friday drop-off over the weekend.

However, Black Friday did still remain the most popular day of the entire 2020 holiday season, with 76.4 million visitors. Traffic on the day of Black Friday represented 19% of the total 403.4 million visits over the 8-day Black Week period.

An average of 10% of visitors on Black Friday saw a Queue-it waiting room before entering the retail site, with the percentage ranging from 0-100% across individual sales. The virtual waiting room acts as a safety net for retailers, protecting 24/7 against sudden peaks in online visitors. Often, retailer websites have capacity, and shoppers don’t realize the virtual waiting room is in place. But when Queue-it customers send visitors to a waiting room, it’s evidence of traffic peaks that might otherwise overwhelm their sites.

Early Deals Didn’t Seem to Depress Visits Later

Entering the 2020 holiday season, it was unclear whether consumers’ uncertain financial health and retailer’s push to start sales earlier would lead to a precipitous drop-off in online traffic after Black Friday.

Queue-it data shows an early push to Black Week, as detailed earlier, but the data does not suggest a sudden post-Black Friday drop-off.

Shoppers visited online retailers in roughly similar volumes after Black Week as before Black Week.

The 10-day period preceding Black Week (Nov 13 – 22, 2020) saw an average of 33.3 million daily visitors. The 10-day period following Black Week (Dec 1 – 7, 2020) saw an average of 31.3 million daily visitors, about 6% lower.

Methodology

Data is based on web traffic from a sample of 95 Queue-it online retail customers. The retailers are based in 25 countries across 6 continents. All traffic date stamps are based on UTC. Year-over-year changes are normalized for a larger sample of retailers in 2020. The 207% overall increase is also normalized for a shorter data timeframe in 2020 (November 27th – December 30th, 2019 vs November 25th – December 21st, 2020).

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