This year’s Black Friday – Cyber Monday (BFCM) weekend has clearly beaten all expectations in most countries, despite early online holiday-season shopping in October and during the first three weeks of November. Among the 30 countries on our real-time parcel radar, year-on-year growth for B2C parcel volumes tops 60% in the Czech Republic, followed by Canada and Ireland with 48% each. Several factors can explain these above-expectations surges in online shopping.
Peak season starts in October
First, as we found in our research back in October, purchase intent through growth in online searches for products around Amazon Prime Days not only advanced shopping but also increased the availability of product information for online shoppers. Product searches increased to a much greater extent than October online purchases. The gap between purchase intent on the one hand, and actual levels of online shopping by increasingly well-informed customers on the other, has now been filled.
New e-shopper categories
Second, this parcel volume overperformance relative to what was forecast could well be found in a massive come-back of first-time online shoppers such as elderly people, who first tried the online purchase experience during the early Covid-19 wave, then shifted back to more offline shopping, before deciding to take advantage of the numerous deals available online during BFCM in the safest possible way, i.e. ordering from home. Our preliminary research regarding the behavior of this group is consistent with a price effect. BFCM price incentives were enough to bring them back to online shopping despite their relatively lower interest in online purchases during the summer.
The perfect BFCM storm then unfolded with the combination of abundantly informed consumers, first-time holiday-season online shoppers and fears related to worse-than-expected second and third waves of the pandemic encouraging people to order from home.
Huge growth rate differences between countries were observed as highlighted in the chart. The median year-on-year growth rate in our sample of 30 countries is 17% while our median country growth forecast was 15%. Our prediction assumed no worsening of the pandemic in view of the BFCM. Unfortunately, the number of daily Covid-19 cases and deaths increased in a number of countries in the meantime.
Which markets are growing the most?
Above the median level, 11 countries grew more than 20% year-on-year. In this group, growth rates range from 23% in Italy to 60% in the Czech Republic.
A group of countries with growth rates close to 40% and higher led increases in BFCM shopping, namely the Czech Republic (60%), Canada (48%), Ireland (48%), Belgium (48%), Great Britain (43%) and the USA (39%). These markets witnessed overwhelming surges in parcel volumes, further challenging the capacity of postal and delivery networks as a result, as well as the shipping management processes of online sellers.
Sweden, Taiwan, Austria, Spain, Denmark and Italy shaped a second growth cluster with much higher growth rates than in previous years. Australia, the Netherlands and the United Arab Emirates closely followed them with significant increases in online shopping during peak season.
Germany led the group of ‘below the median growth rates’ countries with a year-on-year growth lower than 15%. Nevertheless, like in most countries, consumer behavior shifted even more strongly to online shopping than was foreseen.
Most of these markets were already beating high-volume growth expectations, emphasizing how quickly online consumers responded to BFCM, despite an earlier start to the peak season.
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