Global shopping holidays continue to smash records

Imported perishables including fruits and seafoods were in high demand during this year’s 11.11 sales.

“11.11” which falls on 11 November, “Black Friday” the first Friday following Thanksgiving, and Cyber Monday, the Monday directly following Black Friday are all shopping holidays that began as regional events, but are now marketed and promoted around the globe. Each mouse click thrusts inventory replenishment, and in some cases expedited delivery requirements provide a much-welcomed boost to air freight demand. Now that the last major event of the calendar year, Cyber Monday is behind us, we take a moment to review this year’s shopping statistics:

11.11 – A holiday made in China, but fulfilled by the world
Once an obscure “Day” pioneered by e-commerce giant Alibaba, and named for unmarried people in China (Singles Day), 11 November rapidly became the biggest shopping day in the world. Nowadays, it has become more of a shopping season, with e-commerce platforms and their merchants now collecting “11.11” orders even before the 11th, and waiting until the clock strikes 12:00 am to fire off the orders. For this reason, figures involving orders processed in the first x hours, should be thoughtfully considered. Regardless, retail sales on 11.11 continue to surge and impress.

Last year, online shoppers — still mostly in China, but increasingly elsewhere — enabled Alibaba platforms to rack-up US$18 billion in gross merchandise.  This year? Alibaba reported the number of orders across its platforms rose 23%, to 812 million, boosting GMV 39% higher than the same day in 2016, to $US 25.3 billion.

The number-two retailer in terms of GMV, (and number-one in terms of revenue) Beijing-based also fared well during the 11.11 season, with GMV across its platform up by more than 50%, to US$19.1 billion for the eleven-day period beginning on 1 November. This year’s sales included more than 20,000 tonnes of fresh products, including 2 million hairy crabs, and 500,000 Black Tiger shrimp. Between 12:00 am and 4:00 pm on 11.11, JD Logistics says it delivered some 6.38 million orders — similar to average daily volumes handled by FedEx Ground on a global basis in Q4.

Black Friday, the day which used to mark the official start of the holiday shopping season in the US is now visible around the globe

“Black Friday” sales were a common site last week around the globe, including in Ho Chi Minh City, where this photo was taken.

American consumers spent a record US$5 billion through online channels during Black Friday, amounting to a 16.9 percent increase over the prior year, according to statistics released by Adobe Digital insights. Sales figures for brick-and-mortar stores have not yet been released, but CNN reports that early estimates indicate slightly reduced foot traffic, amounting to a less-than-1-percent dip, year-over-year.

Cyber Monday, the largest online shopping day in US history

Many Americans spent their first workday following the Thanksgiving Holiday continuing the hunt for online bargains, and yesterday racked up a record US$6.59 billion in online sales, an increase of 16.8% over 2016. For the first time, nearly one-third of these transactions, some $2 billion worth, were completed through mobile devices.

According to Adobe, top-selling items included high-priced toys and electronics like the Nintendo Switch and Hatchimals, that are made in Asia, and are likely to be replenished by air freight.

What about fulfillment?

Following fumbles of year’s past, integrators this year claimed to be readier than ever to meet the demands of peak season.  FedEx said it anticipates handling between 380 million and 400 million packages during the season, with an average of 26 million packages expected daily for the three remaining Mondays during the holiday season. UPS meanwhile, partnered with Shopify ahead of the holiday season in a move that makes smaller retailers more competitive with Amazon’s logistics network. UPS said it expects to deliver about 750 million packages this holiday season.

For the first 27 days of November, total online retail sales have already passed the $50 billion mark. Looking ahead, online retail sales in the United States are expected to surpass $100 billion for the combined November-December period, with Amazon capturing as much as 50% of this total.

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