Holiday sales are tempting for all merchants be it online or offline business. Recent, holiday trends indicate rising trends of gift cards purchase among the holiday shoppers.

At present, a countdown of Holiday Sales 2017 has started and only a few hours remain to see a spike in traffic. Most of the e-commerce merchants in the USA have taken enough measures to cope with the potential rise in the sales and issues too.

In these critical moments, I would not like to dig deeper into statistics of previous years describing the significance of holiday sales. Therefore, I have place only three graphs to depict what has gone in the past and what trends we can see to reach fruitful conclusions that help online merchants to take immediate decisions for the current holiday season 2017.

12 Top Online Sales Trends for 2016 Holiday Season:

#1. Mobiles Are Rocking in Holiday Sales

Total sales on Black Friday 2016 was more than $1 billion, which is a history in itself for the single day sale.

The share of mobiles in sales generation was 36% on Black Friday 2016.

Smartphones accounted 25% while tablets 11% of total mobile sales on Black Friday 2016.

#2. Early Shopping Pattern in Holiday Sales

Thanks to online shopping facilities and increased trends, holiday shoppers avoid standing on long queues for in-store shopping on real holidays. Instead, they start early shopping with the onset of November.

Therefore, November 2016 sales data have indicated only 9.1% spending during actual three days of the holiday season.

#3. Drop in In-Store Shopping in Holiday Season 2016

Rising e-commerce trends have cut the in-store traffic considerably. Therefore, less than 15% shoppers arrived by 6 A.M. for in-store shopping while 20% shoppers headed out after 10 A.M. on Black Friday 2016.

If the same deals and discounts available online, who prefer to wake up early in the morning and stand in queues for hours!

Similarly, a decline has recorded in foot traffic too on Black Friday 2016. It was 101 million in 2015 but remained 99.1 million in 2016 despite the rise in the population of the shoppers in the nation.

#4. Millennial Potential Shoppers in Holiday Sales

Millennial (18-34 age) group have spent average $338, which is next to an aged group with purchasing power.

• Therefore, buying patterns and behavior of millennial can play a vital role in holiday sales if enough care has taken. Reasons are:
• 77% prefer e-commerce over brick store purchase.
• 52% is doing comparative shopping.
• 33% check reviews and rating before buying.
• 40% love to browse catalog and inventory.

#5. Omnichannel Returns High

Retailers who used Omnichannel for holiday sales in 2016 have achieved 30% more sales compared to single channel users.

Similarly, Omnichannel retailers have received 25% higher AOV.

#6. Buy Online and Pickup In-Store Tendency

Browsing catalog of various online shops, checking reviews, and do comparative shopping are some e-commerce advantages that none can deny. Therefore, holiday shoppers book the orders online but love to pick up it in-person via in-store visit if the store is located in the vicinity of shoppers.

It is because in-store pickup saves time and money spent on shipping. Therefore,

• 59% holiday shoppers have admitted that in-store pickup is meeting their expectations.
• 28% were agreed on that in-store pickup is exceeding their expectations greatly.

Unfortunately, in-store pickup is not working for the shoppers who buy from the eCommerce stores which are out of in-store pickup scope. Thus, direct shipping by commerce is the only way to receive goods.

#7. Mobile Apps Download in Holiday Season 2016

The e-commerce app download and installation incidents on Thanksgiving Day 2016 were above 900K.

The rate has touched new highs on Black Friday with 1.2 million.

#8. Mobile Conversion Rate in Holiday Season 2016

With the advent of technologies, shoppers now prefer complete shopping through mobile devices whether via browsers or e-commerce apps. Thus:

• 30% conversion rate reported on Black Friday.
• 50% + conversion rate reported on Cyber Monday.

#9. Role of Social Media in Holiday Sales in 2016

Salesforce survey has noted that the social mentions such as Likes, Re-tweets, votes, and comments were increased during holiday season 2016.

• It was 50.8% up from 2015 and 78.9% from 2014.
• Facebook emerged as market leader in the holiday season with 42.1% share.
• YouTube at second place with 25.2% share in holiday sales 2016.
• Twitter remained in the third position with 5.3% share.

#10. Influence of Holiday Season on Ads Campaigns

Nearly double ads found on holidays 2016.
Ads enabled app installations, and open rate was high on holidays 2016

#11. Influence of Holiday Season on Email Campaigns

It was 40% rise of emails on Black Friday 2016 compared to 2015.

30% rise reported on Cyber Monday 2016 against 2015.

#12. Influence of Free Shipping on Holiday Season 2016

Average 82% orders were shipped through free shipping schemes in 2016 holiday season.

• 50% retailers have increased free shipping budget.
• 33% retailers have implemented free shipping schemes very early in 2016 holiday season.

Holiday Sales Predictions for 2017 Holiday Season

Based on the holiday sales data and trends of previous years, we can conclude some feasible predictions for the current holiday sales 2017. Those are:

• The Thanksgiving Day 2017 will drive $2.05-2.10 billion with 6-9% growth.
• The Black Friday 2017 will drive $4.04-4.14 billion with 21-24% growth.
• The Cyber Monday 2017 will drive $3.66-3.80 billion with 8-12% growth.

Thus, we can say that the overall holiday sales for 2017 will touch $9.75-10.04 billion with 12.57-15.96% growth.

Gift Card Trends in Holiday Sales 2016

Holiday seasons are mean to gift to friends, relatives, and other relevant social circles on various occasions. Therefore, buying gifts is a prominent activity that merchants love the most. Among the various gift items, gift cards sell high, and it was worth about $46 billion in 2016. Out of it,

• Gift cards of $28 billion gifted to family and friends.
• Gift cards of $11 billion used in self-gifting.
• Gift cards of $7 billion given to employees by companies or organizations.

Why Gift Cards Are Important for Holiday Sales

Thus, we can conclude that gift cards are the most trendy gifting option and capable of giving some additional advantages when you have generated custom gift cards with your branding. Those benefits of gift cards are:

1. Custom gift cards are the perfect solution for e-commerce merchants to bring additional cash flow in advance because gift card buyers pay you in advance without buying anything from your store inventory unless receivers are redeeming it.
2. Gift cards bring new/fresh customers in the form of gift card receivers.
3. Gift card receivers always tend to spend more than the original value attached to the gift cards, so it increases overall revenues of commerce.
4. Gift cards are useful in extending post-holiday sales and promotions.
5. In self-gifting, gift cards help to adjust budget when a break is needed.
6. Gift card strengthen your relationship by providing freedom of choice for recipients to buy a gift by redeeming it.
7. Finally, gift cards provide an elegant shopping experience that hardly comes with other things.

In due course, M-Connect Media has developed an advanced extension for gift cards to integrate with Magento 2 storefront. The Mconnect Gift Card Extension for Magento 2 comes with free 30+ custom email templates design, installation, attractive features that illustrate the online merchants to boost holiday sales 2017.

Author's Bio: 

Darshit Parmar is expertise with Ecommerce Consultant and SEO Analyst. He has gained expertise and experience in PHP programming, open source technology, and internet marketing projects within his nine years of tenure in Magento, eCommerce and SEO industry. Along with managing the marketing team he shares his knowledge through M-Connect Media’s blog page and guides his Global clients with the eCommerce UI and UX solutions.