SimilarWeb data shows two major trends are emerging as retailers respond to evolving consumer behavior over the holiday shopping season.
First, web traffic to the major US online retail sites saw a year-over-year decrease by 11% in 2015 compared to Black Friday last year. Although retailers saw a positive one-day web traffic increase on the day as shoppers flocked online for deals, the same websites received less visits on average compared to 2014.
Second, leading U.S retailers saw an average 60% rise in app use during the peak shopping season. We looked at the active app users in the US, based on installations on Android devices.The biggest peak in engagement was between Wednesday and Thursday when app use increased on average by 44%. The biggest winner, Staples, recorded a 221% rise in mobile app use from the day before Thanksgiving to Black Friday.
According to Pascal Cohen, SimilarWeb Digital Insights Manager: “This shopping season heralds the year of the app. Shoppers opened retails apps in their droves, keeping an eye on deals and returning throughout the day to grab the best bargains.”
“Opt Outside” Converted More Online
At least as surprising, US retailers that closed their stores on Thanksgiving Day and Black Friday outperformed competitors online. Despite closing its doors and urging its customers to “Opt Outside” on both days, REI saw growth in online traffic from customers on both days. The REI site saw a 10% combined web and desktop increase in one-day traffic on Thanksgiving, followed by a further 26% one-day rise on Black Friday. Customers opted to continue shopping, despite the home page on Friday informing customers that all 143 stores were closed and urging them to “join us outside”.
Other retailers who sought to reclaim Thanksgiving for family time, by closing their brick-and-mortar stores also performed better than many competitors on the day.
Will 2016 be the Year of the App?
Since the holiday shopping season serves as an indicator of consumer behavior in the following year, retail analysts expect consumer preference of apps over web will continue. The SimilarWeb digital insights will continue to reveal consumer trends as the holiday seasons unfolds.