Holiday hot sheet – Top shopping days of the season

As we get further into the holiday season, we analyze the results of the peak shopping days. Year-over-year email revenue is up 12% for the key shopping days of the season. Read on to learn more about this year’s Peak Week performances and watch our recent webcast to understand the top products consumers are searching for and which retailers are winning in capturing the shopping audience.

What’s hot this week:

  • Social networking sites and email are driving a greater share of traffic to retail sites this year.
  • Visual social sites like Instagram provide retailers a way to engage consumers without pushing deals.
  • The percentage of emails with a gifting theme rose from 5.2 percent before Thanksgiving to 21 percent after Thanksgiving.
  • Free shipping is becoming more important as the holiday approaches, and 20 percent of campaigns with offers in their subject lines mentioned free shipping this past week.

Email highlights and trends: Peak shopping days performance

While the number of transactions were down by 3.5 percent for the peak shopping days, overall revenue increased by 12 percent. Black Friday had a spectacular 45 percent increase in year-over-year revenue. It is likely that the closeness of Black Friday to Christmas this year boosted the sales for that day. Email revenue for apparel and accessories, shoes, and luxury products was particularly high on Black Friday.

The three industries that are the most ‘holiday’ and gift-driven all had year-over-year increases in revenue for these peak days.

Retail highlights

This week in our analysis of emails received from multichannel retailers, we looked specifically at themes of emails during three time periods: Pre-Thanksgiving (9/29 to 11/27), Thanksgiving (11/27-12/2) and Post-Thanksgiving (12/3-12/8). The biggest shift observed was with emails featuring daily deals and friends and family offers, where the percentage of all mailings received jumped from 4.9 to 15.2 percent for daily deals and from 2.7 to 8.4 percent for friends and family emails. The percentage of emails with a gifting theme also changed significantly during the three time periods, going from 5.2 percent before Thanksgiving to almost 21 percent after Thanksgiving.

Consumer insights from Peak Week

Last week, we reported that total visits across the three peak shopping days was even, with total visits coming in at just over 190 million visits each day. This week, we’re taking a closer look revealing that traffic was less consistent across Thanksgiving, Black Friday and Cyber Monday when we break things down by retail categories. For department stores, appliances/electronics retailers and computers/video game vendors, for instance, traffic was highest on Thanksgiving Day. Meantime, softer categories like apparel/accessories, house/garden and sports/fitness saw their visits peak on Cyber Monday.

Key traffic drivers

This year we saw some interesting changes when it came to the sites driving traffic to the Hitwise® Retail 500 during Peak Week. Specifically, we saw the share of traffic coming from search engines this year fall by a relative 14 percent compared to 2012. At the same time, the share of traffic coming from social networking sites increased a relative 46 percent, confirming the increasing power of social in driving traffic. Email also increased as a driver of traffic by a relative 31 percent this year versus last.

Upstream in social media

Social sites drove a much greater share of traffic to retail sites this year and visual social sites like YouTube, Instagram and Tumblr are among those that increased their share the most. For example, visitors to Hitwise Retail 500 sites were four times more likely to have come directly from Instagram this year than they were in 2012. For retailers tired of using deals to lure shoppers, these visual social sites provide an alternative way to engage and connect with consumers that doesn’t involve discounting.

Stay up-to-date on your hot product news!

Visit and bookmark the Hot Holiday Products and Trends page for the latest trends on hot products this holiday season, as well as a list of the top 20 online retailers capturing the greatest share of visits to the Hitwise Retail 500. We’ll update the content every Tuesday, so check back often! You can also browse through the hot products and top retailers from week’s past on the site. Get your hot product news!

If you missed any of the holiday hot sheets, don’t fear. You now can download past week’s Hot Sheets online.