Digital Marketing

The Retail Report: A Full Breakdown of 2023's Black Friday and Cyber Monday Results

Julio Lopez

Despite the challenges of high-interest rates and pandemic-driven savings habits, consumers worldwide demonstrated remarkable spending resilience, flocking to Black Friday and Cyber Monday (BFCM) sales in record-breaking numbers.

Explore this year's major trends and standout performances from retail's largest weekend, along with innovative, easy-to-implement strategies to keep sales climbing into the new year.

Deep discounts drove consumer spending

The big headline is that major discounts drove consumer spending. If we think back to 2022, the discounts were much more muted, and in many cases, the items on sale were inventory clear-outs, rather than products that were expressly selected for the season.

Given the continued economic uncertainty, retailers delivered bigger discounts than last year, and consumers took note and shopped. There was a 9.4% growth in online sales on Cyber Monday, exceeding expectations with a 38% increase in discount use by Cyber Five shoppers—proving that offers heavily influenced transactions.

This also suggests that consumers likely were waiting to spend on discounted items, contributing to the observed boost in sales and discount usage.

Shoppers turned up in record numbers

In the whirlwind of Cyber Five, shoppers didn't just turn up—they stormed digital and physical aisles in droves. Similar to last year, more than 121 million people visited physical stores. But at the same time, online shopping saw a significant increase, with 4 million more shoppers than last year, highlighting a growing trend towards digital purchasing,

One key observation from the turnout is that 55% of these astute shoppers were attracted by sales and promotions, reminiscent of BFCM shopping before the pandemic. Interestingly, time-sensitive offers captured the interest of 31% of these consumers, challenging the common belief that contemporary shoppers are predominantly driven by the fear of missing out.

We're seeing a renewed excitement in sales-driven shopping, particularly during events like Cyber Five. This underscores the enduring appeal of great deals.

Was inflation a factor?

Inflation's tight grip on the market is loosening, but it hasn't let go entirely. This year, inflation is less of a focus than previous holiday sales. But people are still careful with their money, which is evident from spending patterns during the Cyber Five shopping days. They're setting records but also using discounts and options like Buy Now Pay Later (BNPL) to make their money go further and get the best deals.

According to Adobe Analytics, online prices in October saw a 6% dip compared to last year, thanks to strategic discounting. Shoppers, quick to spot a good deal, increased their use of discount codes, making the most of these deeper cuts. This savvy shopping behavior spurred a surge in demand and peaked  with a 10% jump in orders on Cyber Monday. It's clear: well-placed discounts combat the pressure of inflation and drive impressive sales growth.

Black Friday results

  • United States

On Black Friday, retail sales grew by 2.5%, with in-store sales seeing a more minor increase of 1.1%. This growth was mainly due to more people visiting health and beauty stores. Online sales were the primary driver of this growth, showing a 7.5% increase from last year and reaching $9.8 billion. Notably, over half of these online sales, about $5.3 billion, were made on mobile devices, marking a significant 10.4% increase in mobile shopping compared to the previous year.

  • United Kingdom

In the UK, Black Friday saw a modest 4.1% increase in online sales, reaching £1.04 billion, The average order value rose, yet the number of items per order remained the same, with a slight drop in online transactions. Web traffic and in-store footfall also decreased, suggesting the growth was driven by higher prices, not increased purchases.

The subdued Black Friday results were partly due to retailers offering discounts earlier in November, shifting consumer spending to earlier in the month. This trend, seen in both online and in-store shopping, indicates a change in consumer behavior towards early discount shopping, affecting sales on Black Friday itself.

Cyber Five results

  • United States

The Cyber Five sales period saw impressive growth, with online sales up 7.7% from last year. Each day of the Thanksgiving weekend exceeded $5 billion in sales, and Cyber Monday set a record with $12.4 billion, the highest ever for online shopping.

A notable trend was the 42.5% increase in BNPL options, proving that consumers are more comfortable with using newer payment methods. The period also saw 200.4 million people shopping online and in-store which beat last year’s 196.7 million.

  • United Kingdom

In the UK, Cyber Weekend’s online spending reached £3.45 billion, up 5.6% from last year. Black Friday led with £1.04 billion in sales, but Sunday and Monday saw the biggest growth. Cyber Monday offered better discounts than Black Friday, resulting in more click-and-collect orders and increased BNPL usage.

For the remainder of December, people will likely spend less and look for better deals because of financial strain due to higher living costs and less savings. Retailers must offer good discounts, easy payment choices, and convenient shopping to appeal to customers who watch their spending closely.

Strategies to optimize post-cyber performance

1. Leverage best-sellers to maintain interest

Cyber Weekend, a critical time for retailers, sees a surge in traffic from new and existing customers, with 35% trying new online stores. Marketers face the challenge using data from the sales spike to understand their most popular products and turn new customers into brand loyalists.

Strategies like L’OCCITANE’s, which leverage trending data to highlight sought-after items and create urgency, are crucial. This is especially relevant as 34% of consumers use holiday deals to stock up, often leading to low inventory.

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2. Use Cyber Weekend browsing behavior to personalize

During Cyber Weekend, the surge in online browsing gives marketers insights into consumer behavior. Retailers can use this data to retarget customers with ads for items they've shown interest in, extending their marketing efforts beyond the weekend.

It's important to explain why customers are being retargeted, especially if there are ongoing discounts or limited stock, as urgency can drive conversions. Suggesting related products can be a smart move if direct retargeting isn't effective. This approach caters to consumer preferences for relevant discounts and enhances the overall shopping experience.

3. Reinforce urgency leading up to the holidays

As the holiday shopping season peaks, elevate your customer experience by seamlessly integrating urgency and convenience. To keep up the momentum, leverage a countdown for shipping deadlines and pivot to BOPIS (Buy Online, Pick Up In-Store) strategies post-deadline.

BOPIS is a growing trend with 56% of consumers preferring this method of shopping to dodge shipping delays. Ensure your marketing highlights up-to-date information on local store hours and stock levels to drive in-store foot traffic and last-minute sales.

4. Maintain interest beyond discount periods

To boost conversions during the shift to non-discounted pricing, consider personalizing December campaigns using browse and search data from Cyber Weekend. For instance, Dick's Sporting Goods uses Movable Ink to display tailored hero messages based on customer activity.

Schuh's campaign effectively integrates loyalty vouchers into product prices to incentivize conversions while offering free samples, loyalty points, or exclusive content, which can also encourage customers to convert.

5. Mobile and BNPL take center stage

Personalized mobile messaging and BNPL options are now fundamental elements in a marketer's toolkit, indicative of changing consumer behaviors. According to Adobe Analytics, mobile transactions accounted for a remarkable 54% of online sales during Black Friday, summing up to $5.3 billion—a 10.4% increase from the prior year. This statistic highlights the importance of tailored in-app and push messaging to increase customer lifetime value.

Additionally, 42.5% of online purchases on Cyber Monday utilized BNPL, marking a $940 million year-over-year increase. This trend spotlights the need for BNPL messaging strategies that focus on delivering value to consumers, regardless of product discounts.

While Black Friday and Cyber Week have concluded, there are still plenty of chances to help folks check items off their shopping lists this peak season. Put the final bow on your marketing strategies with timely, 1:1 personalization that fosters stronger brand loyalty going into the new year!

Want to learn more about how you can drive meaningful consumer action after peak season? Check out the related resources below.