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Amazon’s Holiday Success is All in the Timing

With reports of slowing online sales this Black Friday as shoppers rushed back to the crush of in-store shopping, many may be wondering how the king of online retailers, Amazon.com, fared.  One key advantage of our CE Receipt data is that it captures the date that shoppers made an online purchase, while sources like transaction data often reflect when a credit or debit card is charged, usually not until an item ships.  If supply chain issues persist, there may be longer lags between when an order is placed and when it ships, meaning CE Receipt will be the best tool for capturing gross order volume and demand comp.

Last year’s data very clearly exhibits this distinction.  Throughout the period from Black Friday to Christmas, CE Receipt data was just ahead of CE Transact data in capturing Amazon’s sales patterns – both the upticks and the downturns.

Item Order vs. Item Ship

Note:  US only

“Early access” Black Friday sales from other retailers along with Amazon’s “epic daily deals” shifted some holiday spend earlier this year, with November 3 exhibiting 1.36x the sales as the first Wednesday in November 2020.  Shoppers did save some purchases for Black Friday, spending 1.10x the rate of the year before, winding down to 1.07x the Saturday after.  Spend so far this season has been higher for Amazon in 2021 than in every comparable day of 2020 except for one.  Although the beginning of the shopping season saw this higher spend being driven more by a higher number of transactions, the last eleven days have seen higher value per transaction as the larger driver. 

Note:  Each 2021 day indexed to 364 days earlier to control for day of week effects

But the holiday season is far from over.  Though last year Black Friday was the largest spend day for Amazon and accounted for 3.3% of Amazon’s holiday season spend, Cyber Monday wasn’t far behind at 3.2%.  Each day December 4 – December 20 accounted for at least 2% of Amazon’s holiday season spend, though spend did trail off earlier as shoppers worried their gifts wouldn’t make it on time if they ordered too close to Christmas. 

2020 Shopping Cadence

Note:  % of sales November 2 to December 25