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Fastly Blog

Real-time insights: holiday traffic

Our CDN gives us a unique, real-time view of aggregated traffic patterns on the web: because we power tens of thousands of websites, including Shopify, Dollar Shave Club, KAYAK, Wayfair, and Ticketmaster, we can see how people engage with major cultural events online. With the 2016 holiday shopping season upon us, we took a look at how shoppers have engaged with ecommerce sites.

30% of annual retail sales occur between Black Friday and Christmas, making this a critical time for retailers everywhere. Over 70% of consumers planned on doing their shopping online this year — as expected, we saw a 207% increase in traffic as compared to normal at 11 AM ET on Black Friday. But, traffic spikes weren’t isolated to our ecommerce customers. We also saw increased engagement with charity donation sites as well as food-related sites — in the following post, we’ll detail some of the insights we saw from Black Friday through Cyber Monday.

Shopify

Shopify is the leading cloud-based, multi-channel commerce platform designed for small and medium-sized businesses, and we’re pleased to count them among our ecommerce customers.

Shopify powers many of the top online sites, including major brands such as Tesla Motors, Red Bull, Nestle, GE, Kylie Jenner, and hundreds of thousands more, giving them a front-row seat for the holiday shopping surge. With that in mind, we worked with them to share how shoppers engaged online during this peak shopping season, comparing holiday traffic to the same time span a month prior (October 23-29).

holiday shopping 2016 shopify

Here’s a timeline of what we saw:

Black Friday

  • 11/23 1:00 PM ET traffic was 251% higher than normal as shoppers geared up for the holiday weekend.
  • 11/24 1:00 AM ET a 184% increase as doorbuster sales began.
  • 11/25 3:00 AM ET a 201% surge as Black Friday sales kicked off.
  • 11/25 11:00 AM ET a 344% increase as compared to normal by midday.
  • 11/25 5:00 PM ET traffic started to taper as Black Friday drew to a close, but remained 107% higher than normal.

Cyber Monday

  • 11/28 12:00 AM ET a 119% increase as Cyber Monday began.
  • 11/28 12:00 PM ET traffic remained 88% higher than normal as sales continued.
  • 11/28 11 PM ET a 104% increase as shoppers rushed to get their purchases in before sales ended.

Ecommerce

Traffic to ecommerce sites remained higher than normal throughout the week of Thanksgiving, with more traffic overall on Cyber Monday than Black Friday — as of 9 PM ET on 11/28, traffic was 39% higher as compared to 9 PM ET on 11/25.

holiday shopping 2016 ecommerce

Black Friday

  • 11/24 9:00 AM ET a 35% increase in ecommerce traffic on Thanksgiving morning as people started their holiday shopping.
  • 11/24 9:00 PM ET a 62% increase in ecommerce traffic Thanksgiving evening as people went online to take advantage of doorbuster sales after dinner
  • 11/25 8:00 AM ET a 53.5% increase as Black Friday kicked off.
  • 11/25 11 AM ET a 207% increase as midday approached.
  • 11/25 11 PM ET a 93% increase as sales concluded and shoppers rushed to complete purchases.

Cyber Monday

  • 11/27 11 PM ET a 81% increase in ecommerce traffic just before sales began.
  • 11/28 12:00 AM ET a 95.5% increase as Cyber Monday began.
  • 11/28 12:00 PM ET traffic leveled off slightly, but remained at 83% above normal as sales continued.
  • 11/28 11 PM ET a 129% surge as people rushed to get their shopping done before sales ended at 12:00 AM.
  • 11/29 1 AM ET a 77% increase as midnight approached on the west coast and shoppers hurried to make the most of Cyber Monday deals.

Food

Traffic to food-related sites rose higher than normal through the evening of Thanksgiving as people turned to trusted online sources for recipes and cooking tips, finally dropping off around 7 PM ET as holiday cooking wrapped up.

holiday shopping 2016 food

  • 11/22 11:00 PM ET a 150% increase in traffic to food-related sites as people began to research recipes.
  • 11/23 6:00 PM ET a 138% increase as people referenced recipes while beginning to prep for Thanksgiving meals.
  • 11/24 1:00 AM ET a 169% rise in traffic as people on the west coast consulted recipes the night before Thanksgiving.
  • 11/24 7:00 PM ET a 25% drop in traffic as most Thanksgiving dinners concluded.

Giving Tuesday + ACLU

Traffic to donation / non-profit sites climbed higher than average throughout the week of Thanksgiving, increasing most notably around 12:00 AM ET throughout the week, when online engagement usually drops off.

holiday shopping 2016 giving

People are shopping and giving this season – here are some of the traffic trends we saw:

  • 11/22 10 PM ET traffic rose to 99% above normal as people kicked off the holiday week with giving.
  • 11/23 4 PM ET traffic was 127.6% above normal.
  • 11/24 1 AM ET traffic spiked 142% above normal on the traditionally altruistic day of Thanksgiving, following holiday dinner.
  • 11/25 11 PM traffic rose 79% the evening of Black Friday.
  • 11/27 12:00 AM ET traffic remained high throughout the holiday weekend, at 90.5% above normal.
  • 11/28 12:00 AM ET traffic rose 103% in the early hours of Cyber Monday.
  • 11/28 5:00 PM ET a 108.5% increase as sales continued and the workday wound down.
  • 11/29 12:00 AM ET traffic remains high, at 137% above normal.

Giving Tuesday is celebrated on the Tuesday following Thanksgiving, and marks one of the biggest days of the year for donation and charity sites: last year, over 700,000 people raised $116 million in over 70 countries. We’re pleased to count the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) as one of our customers.

holiday shopping 2016 ACLU

Here’s a timeline of what we saw during the week of Thanksgiving:

  • 11/22 10:00 PM ET traffic rose 238% as people geared up for the holidays.
  • 11/23 4:00 PM ET traffic rose again the day before Thanksgiving, to 341% above normal.
  • 11/24 12:00 AM ET the trend continued the morning of Thanksgiving, at 437% above normal.
  • 11/25 12:00 AM ET traffic remained high, at 220% above normal.
  • 11/25 11:00 PM ET a 167% jump in traffic as Black Friday drew to a close.
  • 11/27 1:00 AM ET a 209% increase in traffic during the holiday weekend.
  • 11/28 1:00 AM ET a 286% increase as Cyber Monday kicked off.
  • 11/28 5:00 PM ET traffic remained high as Cyber Monday ends, at 238% above normal.
  • 11/29 12:00 AM ET the early hours of Giving Tuesday showed a 212% bump in traffic.

Keeping an eye on real-time insights

We’re pleased to work with our customers to share these traffic patterns as they happen, and recently launched our real-time insights to offer a holistic view into major moments of engagement. Check it out for an easy-to-reference timeline of events, and stay tuned — we’ll continue to report on how the internet reacts to major events in 2017.

Real-time insights

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Author

Tyler McMullen | CTO

Tyler McMullen is CTO at Fastly, where he’s responsible for the system architecture and leads the company’s technology vision. As part of the founding team, Tyler built the first versions of Fastly’s Instant Purging system, API, and Real-time Analytics. A self-described technology curmudgeon, he has experience in everything from web design to kernel development, and loathes all of it. Especially distributed systems.

tbmcmullen