11.19.2018Updated on 12.17.2018Enterprise Tech

2018 Holiday Retail Index by Verizon tracking digital commerce

By: Ilya Hemlin

The Holiday Retail Index by Verizon monitors daily traffic volume to the top 25 U.S.-based online retailers throughout the holiday shopping season.

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Key findings from the third weekend of December

27.1%
eCommerce traffic change 2017 vs 2018 for Fri., Dec. 14.
20.8%
eCommerce traffic change 2017 vs 2018 for Sat., Dec. 15.

Increase (decrease) in traffic volume measured against each year’s 15 day average (Nov. 1-15) to account for year-over-year general network growth.

Only one weekend left until Christmas and business is
picking up.

With Christmas Eve falling on a Monday this year, this was the last opportunity to do some holiday shopping. Verizon’s holiday retail index shows a strong increase in traffic to e commerce sites over the weekend, even compared to the spike we had this time last year.”

“With crunch time approaching, retailers need to make sure they can sustain the crowds, both in store and online. This is where a strong network and infrastructure can make or break a holiday season. This will especially be important later in the week, as last minute customers try and take advantage of two day shipping deals.

Michele Dupré, Group Vice President, Retail, Hospitality and Distribution for Verizon Enterprise Solution

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Key findings from two weeks before Christmas

2.8%
eCommerce traffic change 2017 vs 2018 for Fri., Dec. 7.
-2%
eCommerce traffic change 2017 vs 2018 for Sat., Dec. 8.
-29%
eCommerce traffic change 2017 vs 2018 for Sun., Dec. 9.
-1%
eCommerce traffic change 2017 vs 2018 for Mon., Dec. 10.

Increase (decrease) in traffic volume measured against each year’s 15 day average (Nov. 1-15) to account for year-over-year general network grow

Even though traffic volume to eCommerce websites was strong compared to last year, the Verizon Holiday Retail Index shows the rate of increase in visitors is lower this year. We're in the time of the holiday season where consumers feel there have a little breathing room. Far enough removed from the frenzy of Black Friday and Cyber Monday but still with two weeks until Christmas. If retailers want to get ahead of the curve, they need to capitalize now. Letting shoppers know about great deals they still have or are planning on rolling out can get brands top of mind when consumers are scrambling to do any last minute shopping.

Michele Dupré, Group Vice President, Retail, Hospitality and Distribution for Verizon Enterprise Solutions

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How small businesses can succeed

This holiday season, it’s no secret that digital commerce is strong. Reports show that consumer confidence is high and online sales continue to stay strong. But what does that mean for small business owners hoping to compete in this market?

 Business owners, particularly those in retail, can and are attracting the attention they want this season. While larger organizations and businesses garner significant online traffic, small business owners can take the remaining few weeks of the season leverage the very things that set them apart.

 Consider these three points to keep your small business competitive this season:

  • Build your own community. Take the time to create and leverage a community that will help differentiate yourself, particularly in areas where you can carve out a market niche or brand reputation with your customers and community. 
  • Balance the human touch with technology to differentiate your business. Even though we’re nearing the end of the year, it’s not too late to be creative with your marketing tactics. Short form videos and focused social media content, supported by buyer feedback and reviews are key tactics to leverage. 
  • Offer your personal recommendations. Your customers have a lot on their minds. There’s great value proposition in offering more value, if and when appropriate. Consider pre-bundling items that your customers may need to use together. If not bundles, offer highly recommended items or packages that are tailored to your specific customers’ needs. If you can, use market research first to identify the right items to bundle or couple together. 

Now is when retailers need to stand out from the pack

7.5%
eCommerce traffic change 2017 vs 2018 for Sat., Dec. 1.
-39.0%
eCommerce traffic change 2017 vs 2018 for Sun., Dec. 2.

We saw a distinct slowdown in traffic to ecommerce websites through the first weekend in December. Without the flurry of Black Friday and Cyber Monday sales and with three weeks until Christmas, many shoppers aren't as motivated at this point. This is a great opportunity for retailers to stand out with special promotions and sales. Knowing how to engage with your customers, digitally and in person, can really make a difference this time of the season.

Michele Dupré, Group Vice President, Retail, Hospitality and Distribution for Verizon Enterprise Solutions

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Black Friday weekend caps off a full week of strong growth in retail traffic

29.8%
eCommerce traffic change 2017 vs 2018 for Sat., Nov. 24.
22.9%
eCommerce traffic change 2017 vs 2018 for Sun., Nov. 25.
25%
Average daily eCommerce traffic increase 2017 vs 2018 for Nov. 20 through Nov. 27.

Increase (decrease) in traffic volume measured against each year’s 15 day average (Nov. 1-15) to account for year-over-year general network growth.

Black Friday is no longer a single day event as we’ve seen a consistent growth in traffic to retail sites through the whole week leading up to Thanksgiving and continued through the weekend.  

“With Cyber Monday, the challenge for retailers is keeping consumers engaged through the rest of November and into the early part of December.

Michele Dupré, Group Vice President Retail, Hospitality, and Distribution for Verizon Enterprise Solutions.

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Key findings for Black Friday and Thanksgiving

31.2%
eCommerce traffic change 2017 vs 2018 for Black Friday.
3.6%
eCommerce traffic change 2017 vs 2018 for Thanksgiving Day.
32.6%
Avg. eCommerce traffic change for 2017 vs 2018 for Mon, Tues, Wed before Thanksgiving

Increase (decrease) in traffic volume measured against each year’s 15 day average (Nov. 1-15) to account for year-over-year general network growth.

Black Friday and Thanksgiving continue to be strong days for retail, but we're seeing it become a week long event,” said Michele Duprè, Group Vice President, Retail, Hospitality, and Distribution for Verizon Enterprise Solutions.

“Retailers started announcing Black Friday deals in early November and it appears to be paying off as online traffic saw a significant and steady bump all throughout the days leading up to Thanksgiving. A cold spell in the northeast also likely prompted some shoppers to check off their list online, but as temperatures warm up, expect more traffic to physical stores.

Michele Dupré, Group Vice President, Retail, Hospitality and Distribution for Verizon Enterprise Solutions

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Key findings from the weekend before Thanksgiving

4.19%
eCommerce traffic change 2017 vs 2018 for Saturday, November 17.
14.93%
eCommerce traffic change 2017 vs 2018 for Sunday, November 18.

"The early engagement from retailers appears to be paying off as traffic this year continues to grow from years past," said Michele Dupré, Group Vice President of Retail, Hospitality & Distribution, Verizon Enterprise Solutions. “A strong trend in consumer confidence is highlighted by shopper’s interest in the early Black Friday deals that we started learning about in early November. The challenge will be to see if this trend can be maintained throughout the season."

A strong trend in consumer confidence is highlighted by shopper’s interest in the early Black Friday deals that we started learning about in early November. The challenge will be to see if this trend can be maintained throughout the season.

Michele Dupré, Group Vice President, Retail, Hospitality and Distribution for Verizon Enterprise Solutions

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Key Points

 
  • Traffic to ecommerce sites remains strong but below the previous year in terms of day over day increase. 
  • Without Black Friday and Cyber Monday sales, and with three full weeks until Christmas, consumers aren't as motivated.  
  • Retailers who offer great deals now can stand out, compared to Black Friday and Cyber Monday, when consumers expect everyone to have major sales
  • Shoppers use this time to peruse brick and mortar stores for gift ideas that they will buy closer to Christmas (when there is an expectation of better sales)

 

Payment security top of mind during the holiday season

Ecommerce systems are public-facing and typically handle payment card and customer data – making them attractive targets for cybercrime. Among the most common Web application attacks take advantage of input validation weaknesses or stolen credentials.

According to Verizon’s 2018 Data Breach investigations Report, slightly more than half (53%) of the breaches recorded in retail affected a server, which may be related to the frequency of web application attacks.

Roughly one-third of all confirmed breaches in retail involved a web application. Common attack types include the capturing and exporting application data, OS commanding and the use of stolen credentials.

Another one-third of the breaches follow a pattern that is specific to brick-and-mortar retailers: card skimming. Typically, this is when an attacker sticks a device onto a card reader to secretly collect payment info as cards are swiped.

About the author(s): 

Ilya Hemlin is an external communication manager at Verizon writing about enterprise solutions.