Online Sales Trends: Black Friday, Small Business Saturday, and Cyber Monday

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The four days following Thanksgiving resulted in, historically, the highest annual spike in online traffic and sales revenue for the year.

This year, the big question was if online sales and traffic were going to return to the levels recorded in 2019 (pre-COVID), since so many bookstores have now resumed in-store shopping. Well, that didn't happen. Online sales for Black Friday (November 26) through Cyber Monday (November 29) were up 217.51% versus 2019 sales for the same period.

Here’s what else you should know:

  • The e-commerce conversion rate (the percentage of online customers that completed an online purchase) for the four-day period averaged 4.28% in 2021 vs 2.96% in 2019 (see graph below).
  • Online traffic was up 100.26% for the four-day period vs the same period in 2019.
  • The average amount paid for an online purchase was up 6.63%.

So, this year, more people were shopping online, and they made more purchases and spent more money on those purchases than they did in 2019.

An e-commerce report from November 26 through November 29.

Online sales revenue was not as high as in 2020, which was when many bookstores were not offering in-store shopping, and many customers felt more comfortable shopping online. However, what we saw this past Black Friday through Cyber Monday were exceptionally good sales and traffic numbers, especially when you take into account that most independent bookstore customers now have the option of shopping in-store.

Expect elevated online sales to continue over the next two weeks, with sales spikes occurring this Saturday and Sunday (December 4 and 5) as well as the following weekend. Online sales and traffic will then slowly taper down to normal levels as we approach Christmas Eve. As we learn more about the Omicron COVID variant, in-store and online sales may be impacted.