Mobile Puts An End to Black Friday Shopping

By: Flurry

December 11, 2014 | Jarah Euston

Now that the holiday shopping season is in full swing, we decided to take a look back at the Thanksgiving weekend to see how mobile impacted shopping in 2014. In its well-regarded Black Friday report, IBM noted that for the first time, mobile browsing exceeded desktop browsing on Thanksgiving day. The report also found that Thanksgiving day sales are eating into Black Friday profits, suggesting that consumers are able to find a bargain any day of the Thanksgiving weekend. Our own analysis has found the same is true in the app world. Following up on our Thanksgivingreport from last year, Flurry discovered, along with other findings, that regardless of a retailer’s strategy, mobile consumers are able to find sale prices any day. In other words, every day is Black Friday for the savvy app user.

To understand user behavior over the holiday weekend, we examined which categories of apps had an increase in activity during the Thanksgiving weekend compared to the week prior. The data shows that while there was an increase in popular holiday categories like shopping, sports and health and fitness, the spikes in 2014 were not as pronounced in prior years - perhaps because there’s been an increase in in-app activity overall since 2011.

Holiday Mobile Trends: Gaming Up, Fitness Down, More Shopping Days

Holiday mobile trends: Gaming up, fitness down, more shopping days - change in US app sessions during Thanksgiving holiday and week prior, by category - shopping, games, health & fitness

The above chart plots the percentage increase in number of sessions by category for a given day versus the week prior. This year, Thanksgiving, not Black Friday or Cyber Monday, saw the biggest spike in shopping activity, at 23 percent more sessions than the prior week. Shopping increases on the day before Thanksgiving and Black Friday were just about half of that, at 10 percent. It looks like savvy mobile shoppers are knocking things of their shopping lists as they start to defrost the bird. In fact, most mobile shoppers had made their purchases by Cyber Monday, when they returned to work and their PCs.

The Thanksgiving table, notorious for spirited conversations with friends and family, perhaps was a little quieter this year, as sessions in gaming app spiked nearly 30 percent on Thanksgiving Day - higher than any other day in the long weekend. Americans stayed away from their health and fitness apps over the food-filled holiday with apps in this category under indexing an average of 15 percent vs the week prior. On Cyber Monday, however, mobile consumers promptly returned to their regularly scheduled workouts to make sure the thanksgiving feast and weekend of leftovers didn’t have a lasting effect.

Shopping: Not Just for Friday Anymore

Gaming activity increases and workouts decrease over the Thanksgiving holiday weekend, which is no surprise. But where shopping used to be concentrated on just one day, that’s not the case anymore. Retail pundits have suggested American shoppers are becoming immune to sales and promotions because rather than special events, they’ve become the norm. Flurry’s app data suggests they may be on to something - we shop every day, Black Friday, Thanksgiving, and any given Tuesday. As mobile has matured, overall app usage continues to grow and grow, just like our Thanksgiving waistlines.