Cyber Monday is a wrap, and with it, so is the busiest shopping week of the year. The Covid-19 pandemic made for a different sort of Cyber Week, especially with fewer storefronts open on Thanksgiving compared to past seasons. All that had consumers opting to make their more purchases online versus in-store.
Still, different doesn’t necessarily mean negative. And there were plenty of winners during this year’s Cyber Week bonanza. The successes this year came in the form of unexpected sales increases within the context of a pandemic and staggering job losses across the country. The surprise victories can also be measured in the amount of higher in-person shopping visits than was anticipated during Cyber Week. For instance, retailers’ in-store foot traffic took less of a hit compared to the non-holiday period. And in very occasional circumstances. some actually counted actual rises of in-person shopping. Below are five retailers that notched major wins in the early days of this year’s holiday shopping season.
Let’s start with the obvious. There’s few aspects of retail, from fashion to air fryers, that Amazon isn’t dominating. So it any surprise that behemoth came out of Cyber Week on top? According to Numerator, a data and tech company serving the market research space, one out of every five dollars spent over the post-Thanksgiving shopping weekend were spent at Amazon. That marks the first time the retailer has captured such a high share of the weekend’s spend. Last year, just over one in 10 Black Friday weekend purchases—an 11.7% share—were made on Amazon. It’s even more impressive that people were spending so much on Amazon this year when you consider that Prime Day, its other major sales event, occurred just six weeks earlier, rather than its usual time slot of July.
Though Ulta, like most retailers, saw declines in foot traffic in the days after Thanksgiving, it still had a strong Cyber Week thanks to its performance in the days leading up to the holiday. On the Tuesday prior to Thanksgiving, Ulta saw a 11.2% increase in visits, and a 4.6% increase on the Sunday before. Those numbers are perhaps representative of how Black Friday has transitioned from a one-day event affair to weekend-long affair to full-week bonanza, with traffic being spread out to other days of the week, like the weekend and days ahead of the holiday and allowing for lower traffic on Black Friday itself.
Home improvement stores have been one of the categories that have benefitted from the pandemic, even in its earliest days. Home Depot, in particular, reported a comparable sales increase of 6.4% during the first quarter as well as net sales growth of 7.1% to $28.3 billion. So it’s no surprise that Home Depot continued to fare well over Cyber Week, where it saw smaller declines than several other major retailers when it came to foot traffic. That’s in part because Home Depot stores stayed open on Thanksgiving, so its foot traffic on that day was only down by 49.4%, compared to other retailers that saw a near 100% drop. On Black Friday, that decrease was even smaller—just a 12.7% drop in daily visits, according to Placer.ai, quite an accomplishment in a pandemic year.
Dollar General likely isn’t the first place you may think of when it comes to Black Friday deals—after all, it spends all year long touting its low prices. But consumers embraced Dollar General this holiday season: It was one of the only retailers to see store foot traffic up consistently in the days before and after Thanksgiving. It had particularly strong growth on the Saturday before the holiday and on Thanksgiving itself, with a 21% and 12.1% increase, respectively. On the latter, the store may have benefitted from the fact that several other retailers that typically keep their storefronts open on Thanksgiving closed them this year in light of the ongoing difficulties around the pandemic.