Three things have been certain each holiday shopping season over the past few years: digital commerce has grown by double digits, shoppers have migrated to mobile, and the peak shopping period shifts earlier and earlier. These trends have continued with the first big shopping day of the season – Thanksgiving. This year, Thanksgiving Day rang up 29% more online sales than 2016, as shoppers once again pulled their (digital) wallets out in advance of the ‘legacy’ shopping holidays of Black Friday and Cyber Monday to unofficially kick off the peak shopping season.

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Mobile Takes Another Huge Leap
The great enabler of this early season growth could not be any clearer: mobile.

As we expected, mobile is proving to be the source of digital growth. This year, mobile shopping took another massive step forward, as shoppers placed 48% more orders on phones. For the first time ever, mobile surpassed computers, capturing 46% of all orders, edging out computer’s 45% share, thanks to a 12% increase in conversion rate. The mobile share of traffic to retail sites was head and shoulders above any other device, accounting for 61% of all traffic on Thanksgiving Day, thanks to 33% more visits from phones.

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Personalization Has Outsized Impact on Growth
For the first time ever in our holiday reporting, we measured the impact of personalization on sales; while 5% of shoppers clicked or tapped on a personalized product recommendation, those shoppers accounted for 28% of all revenue.

Holiday Shopping Happens Earlier and Earlier
So how important is Thanksgiving Day for retailers? With this year’s incredible digital sales growth, which represented an acceleration of last year’s 17% year-over-year growth, Thanksgiving will likely bump Cyber Sunday off the medal stand to become the third-biggest shopping day of the season, trailing only Black Friday and Cyber Monday. Last year, Thanksgiving accounted for 4.4% of the entire season’s sales, while Sunday accounted for 4.6%.

The most interesting shopping behavior this year is that shoppers are pulling their spend earlier, with Thanksgiving and Thanksgiving Eve (up 31% year-over-year) serving as the real start of the shopping season. While retailers have been promoting Cyber Week deals earlier, shoppers don’t start to exhibit true buying intent until Wednesday, as conversion rates grow dramatically beginning with Thanksgiving Eve and remaining elevated all the way through Cyber Monday.

Here’s the flash report for digital commerce on Thanksgiving Day.

Metric Value Change From Last Year
Revenue Growth 29% Up from 17%
Traffic Growth 23% Up from 16%
Mobile Traffic Share 61% Up from 53%
Mobile Order Share 46% Up from 37%
Social Traffic Share 5.3% Up 30%
Average Order Value $117 Down from $119
Discount Rate 29% Flat
Free Shipping 85% Up from 82%
% of Shoppers That Engaged with AI-Powered Product Recommendations 5% New metric
% of Revenue Driven by AI-Powered Product Recommendations 28% New metric

Stay tuned for additional flash reports throughout Cyber Week. And stay tuned for the next episode of Retail Reality Check, on Facebook Live and Twitter, Tuesday, Nov. 28 at 2PM EST for a complete Cyber Week recap. Our Holiday Flash Reports are a derivative of the quarterly Shopping Index, which analyzes the activity of over half a billion global online shoppers, and helps retailers and brands benchmark their performance.

Check out the latest installment of the quarterly Shopping Index.

The shopping flash report provides a snapshot of digital commerce metrics, focusing on the busy Christmas Holiday Shopping Season. The analysis reflects a comparison of digital commerce sites transacting during both last year’s and this year’s shopping season, across the globe, with a focus on direct-to-consumer brands and retailers in North America and Europe. The data presented here is not indicative of Salesforce Commerce Cloud operational performance.