By August this year, digital shopping had seen 130 days in which sales exceeded $2 billion — in 2019, only two days hit that peak outside the holiday shopping season. As we said in June, digital shopping carts in the Spring zoomed to the check-out flow in such numbers that many of our customers experienced the equivalent of Cyber Monday every week for weeks on end.
With a potential second peak of online shopping coming for the gift-giving season, we recently took another look at online shopping behavior since the pandemic began and compared it to 2018 and 2019’s patterns. By looking at aggregated U.S.-based daily active user (DAU) data from over 100 digital apps, we found a few surprises, like January 1 being a close rival to — if not outright winner over — Cyber Monday for DAU volume. And of course, we confirmed what our neighborhoods’ recycling bins stuffed full of cardboard already told us: We’re opening our wallets online more than ever before.
A new online shopping floor
In January and February, we saw a roughly 33% increase in DAU for online shopping over 2019. March, April and May jumped that up to 51%, 66%, and 69% respectively. With the exception of a few relatively small dips this year, consumers have kept scrolling and spending.
We’re witnessing a new floor for DAU in online shopping. And if the data from early November holds true, we might also start to see a Cyber November instead of a Cyber Monday.
Amplitude data from 2019 and 2020 shows the effect of COVID-19 on online shopping.
Is New Year’s Day the new Cyber Monday?
Looking at the past two years’ worth of data, we found a surprise: January 1 beat out Black Friday and Cyber Monday both years for highest DAU across a significant number of companies.
Amplitude data from the 2018-19 and 2019-20 holiday seasons shows that in many companies, January 1 beats out Cyber Monday and Black Friday for online shopping DAU in the U.S.
At first we weren’t sure what to make of this finding — was the data good? We interviewed a few of our customers to confirm. The story became clear: Consumers head to online stores on January 1 because they get sent significant deals that day from retailers who need to shift excess stock that didn’t sell during the holiday season. Looking at our personal shopping patterns for ideas, we also guessed that many of us — tired from the previous night — might use our time off on New Year’s Day to lounge around with our devices and spend gift cards we received over the holidays.
You love delivery… but possibly not as much as mom’s turkey
In addition to all the clothes, cleaning supplies, and masks we’ve bought online in the past few months, we’ve also bought a lot of delivery food, groceries, and order-ahead/takeaway food. Starting on March 12, we see an explosion of DAU for these types of apps — year-over-year DAU growth went from an average of 38.4% all the way up to 105.9% in mid March through April. March 17 is when San Francisco’s lockdown went into effect, March 22 was New York’s lockdown — clearly, many of us saw this coming a few days in advance.
COVID-19 changed food buying habits: usage of food delivery apps soared starting March 12 and saw a major peak in April 2020.
Despite the huge jump in the usage of these apps in 2020, the trends from 2018 and 2019 suggest that we might put our phones down in favor of a homemade meal during the holidays. On Thanksgiving and Christmas Day, we see a substantial decrease in DAU for food delivery apps. However, we really want food brought to us on New Year’s Day.
Amplitude data from the 2018-19 and 2019-20 holiday seasons shows that food delivery app usage dipped on Thanksgiving and Christmas, but soared on New Year’s Day.
This year may buck the trend temporarily due to the likely significant decrease in travel over the holidays this year. Many of us, sadly, but with safety in mind, won’t be able to be with family for our traditional meals.
Will the trends hold? Follow and find out.
Will New Year’s Day go a third year as the top shopping day? Will we order in our holiday meals in 2020 unlike previous years? Sign up for our newsletter or follow us on Twitter to get early access to our January follow-up report on consumer online shopping trends.
For this analysis, we reviewed aggregate data for daily active user volume data for 109 onboarded, non-trial, in-production applications grouped by industry. The analysis includes data from 2018 through to November 7, 2020.