Our 2018 Holiday Sales Spending Breakdown

holiday sales recap

This past holiday season was truly one for the record books. From Black Friday to Super Saturday, consumer spending reached its highest point in six years. So, before we box up our decorations and finalize those resolutions, let’s take one last look back at consumer spending during the 2018 holiday season.

2018 Holiday Spending Recap

Before the holiday, the National Retail Federation expected sales to be 4.1% higher than years past. Early reports from Mastercard SpendingPulse actually saw a 5.1% increase in spending between November 1st and December 24th compared to 2017, exceeding predictions even early in the season.

In the end, consumers spent more than $850 billion with the average shopper spending $1,007 on food, presents, decorations, and greeting cards. Altogether, for online and brick-and-mortar retailers, this holiday season saw the highest spending in six years.

Black Friday

We kicked off the holiday season with everyone’s favorite modern-day gladiator match shopping day — Black Friday. In 2018, nearly 116 million people took a break from family time to snag their must-buy gifts at deep discounts. With consumer confidence at its highest since 1999, consumers turned up to S-H-O-P spending about $60 billion on Black Friday alone.

Despite promising numbers, foot traffic was down almost 2% compared to Black Friday 2017. But while in-store traffic may have been down, online traffic hit new highs with many stores (including Walmart and J. Crew) scrambling to keep up. Altogether, online sales on Black Friday increased 23.7% compared to 2017, accounting for a record $6.22 billion of the total sales for the day!

Cyber Monday

Speaking of online shopping….with a final tally of $7.9 billion in sales, 2018’s Cyber Monday was the biggest online shopping day in US history. According to Shopify, peak sales per minute reached $870,000 and peak orders reached 10,978 per minute. While most of Shopify’s online sales came from North American shoppers, 19% of all orders placed with a Shopify store were shipped internationally.

This year was a huge year for mobile too, with 65% of site traffic coming from a mobile or tablet device. Americans spent more than $2 billion dollars from their smartphone on Cyber Monday alone. In total, mobile sales accounted for 30% of total online sales on Cyber Monday.

Some of the top products consumers sought on Cyber Monday were:

  1. Fingerlings
  2. L.O.L Surprise
  3. Nintendo Switch
  4. Laptops
  5. Televisions

But Cyber Monday and Black Friday weren’t the only big days this holiday season.

Small Business Saturday

Large-scale retailers weren’t the only businesses to see record-breaking sales during the 2018 holiday season. This year, Small Business Saturday set a record $3 billion in online sales. Launched in 2010, American Express began a campaign to promote and support small businesses on and offline. Since 2010, Americans have spent a reported $85 billion dollars at independent shops and restaurants across the US.

Consumers weren’t just shopping small in-person. 64% of consumers took advantage of shopping online to support small and medium-sized businesses on Etsy and Amazon, Some of the most popular items purchased during Small Business Saturday included:

  • Facial/Day Spa Services
  • Antiques
  • Clothing
  • Home and Car Audio

Super Saturday

The last Saturday before Christmas is one of the most anticipated shopping days of the year. Often referred to as Super Saturday or “Panic Saturday”, nearly 134 million people took advantage of last minute deals and sales.

In 2017, retailers rang up $24 billion in last-minute sales. This year, retailers saw a whopping $26 billion.

So what made this year’s Saturday so super? Low gasoline prices and mild weather nudged shoppers out of their home and into stores. In fact, foot traffic increased by 4% compared to the three days leading up to Christmas in 2017.

Top Holiday Sales-Driving Marketing Channel

So, what marketing channel helped to push this year’s holiday spending into the record books?


Don’t get us wrong, social media and paid search both helped drive their fair share of sales, but it was tried-and-true email marketing that pushed 2018 holiday sales to the next level.

All told, email accounted for 20% of online holiday site visits. Thanks to email, retailers saw an average increase in online order values of 19%. This increase indicates that consumers are finally becoming more comfortable making larger purchases online.

For newcomers just signing up to receive emails just in time for the holiday season, 38% of welcome emails were opened. Those customers coming from welcome emails closely matched cart recovery emails in order rate.

Email reminders helped to reduce cart abandonment rates from 37.69% in 2017 to 34% in 2018. A major indicator that email reminders for forgetful shoppers do work.

Key Takeaways

Despite what some “experts” may say, email marketing is not dead (nor is it dying). Brands that cultivate and nurture a strong email and social media community can leverage their audience to drive record sales during the 2019 holiday season.

Savvy brands should consider combining their email and content marketing efforts via an advocacy marketing program to further drive holiday sales. Not only does an advocacy marketing program allow you to email your latest content and offers to your audience, but it also empowers your audience to share those offers on their personal social media feeds.

To learn more about advocacy marketing, check out our blog post here.

Get Ready for Next Year

You might not be thinking about the holidays just yet, but it’s never too early to start preparing. SocialToaster can help get you ready for the next big shopping holiday (Valentine’s Day anyone?) and beyond.

To learn more about what SocialToaster can do for you in 2019, call us at 855.62.TOAST or request a free demo.

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