Holiday 2013 Results Wrap-Up

January 16, 2014

MarketingCharts-Holiday2013-E-Commerce-Growth-Estimates-Jan2014With the holiday season well and truly over (the Super Bowl is the next event-based flood of research), the results continue to roll in, with comScore pegging desktop e-commerce sales growth of 10% for the November-December period, and IBM putting online sales growth (mobile included) at 10.3% for the fourth quarter. Overall, ShopperTrak says that national retail sales grew by 2.7% year-over-year during November and December, while the NRF comes up with a growth rate of 3.8%, in line with expectations, for the period.

The following is a selection of holiday highlights (links to the sources can be found at the end of the article):


  • Holiday (Nov-Dec) e-commerce revenues grew by an estimated 12% year-over-year (Custora), buoyed by an 18.2% increase on Cyber Monday;
  • Online sales in the US grew by 18% year-over-year, with November and December accounting for 27% of annual sales for the average US retailer (Adobe).

Traffic, Marketing Channels, and Conversion Rates

  • E-commerce conversion rates inched up a decimal point from the 2012 period to reach 2.5% in 2013 (Custora), although Adobe puts the average rate at 1.96% (3.28% among the “best of the best”);
  • E-commerce visitor traffic increased by an estimated 15% year-over-year, while orders were up by 12% (Custora);
  • Organic (26%), email (16%), and CPC (15%) drove the largest share of e-commerce purchases, with email up 3% points from 2012 (Custora);
  • Only 2% of online holiday shoppers were referred directly from a social network (last-click), although 36% of US consumers said that at least 30% of their purchases were influenced by social media (Adobe);
  • Facebook accounted for 64% of social referrals, though Pinterest (+24%) and Twitter (+17%) referrals grew more quickly (Adobe);
  • On average, search delivered 36% of online holiday shoppers, slightly behind direct visits (40%) (Adobe);
  • Checkout completion rate was 49% on average, but 68% for the “best of the best” (Adobe);
  • Email volume across all industries increased by 12.8% year-over-year during the Sept.29-Dec. 31 period, with the increase even larger (35.8%) over the last 10 days of the year (Experian);
  • Multichannel retailers’ email volume was up a more modest 9.3% for the entire period, while increasing 33.5% during the last 10 days of the year (Experian);
  • Email click-through rates and transaction metrics fell on a year-over-year basis during the fourth quarter, but the large increases in email volume led to a 9% increase in transactions deriving from email campaigns and an 18.4% rise in overall revenue.

Mobile Commerce

  • Tablets (11%) and mobile phones (18%) accounted for 29% of all holiday e-commerce orders, up from 20% in 2012;
  • As also noted by IBM, iOS devices accounted for the vast majority (83%) of mobile commerce orders (Custora);
  • Mobile shopping accounted for 14% of total holiday online sales for the average US retailer, with a peak of 26% share on Black Friday (Adobe);
  • Mobile’s share of sales grew more quickly for brick-and-click retailers (+6.4% points) than for online-only retailers (+4.5% points), and also represented a greater share of sales for the former (Adobe);
  • As might be expected, mobile’s share of online sales was greater for categories such as toys and apparel than for higher-ticket categories such as automotive and electronics (Adobe);
  • Almost two-thirds (65%) of emails sent by multichannel retailers were opened on mobile, with this industry also seeing more than half of its clicks occurring on mobile (Experian).

Key Dates

  • Online sales on Cyber Monday peaked between 8 and 9PM (Adobe);
  • Two of the top 10 email-related transaction days of the holiday period were in early November (Nov. 8 and Nov. 15), per Experian;
  • The week ending December 28 accounted for 15.5% of total sales and 16% of total holiday traffic (ShopperTrak);
  • The strongest sales days were Nov. 29 (Black Friday), Dec. 21, and Dec. 23, in that order, with Black Friday emerging as the top traffic day (ShopperTrak).

Source Links

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