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Retail sees strong annual growth over Thanksgiving holiday weekend

Retail search volume saw strong growth over the Thanksgiving holiday weekend with an increased emphasis on pickup options, but there was less prominence of queries specific to Black Friday and Cyber Monday.

Search volume across all retail categories increased 16% year over year (YoY) for the two-week period ending on Cyber Monday. Categories like home & garden, hobbies & leisure, and sports & fitness grew to the greatest extent. Looking closer at the key dates of the holiday weekend, the growth trend accelerates. Black Friday, Saturday, and Sunday each saw retail search volume grow more than 20% over 2019.

Chart depicting year over year changes in retail marketplace metrics. Searches increased by 21%25 on Black Friday, 23%25 Saturday, 20%25 Sunday, and 16%25 Cyber Monday. Clicks grew 7%25 on Black Friday, 15%25 Saturday, 11%25 Sunday, and 0%25 Cyber Monday. Costs per click fell 9%25 on Black Friday, 7%25 Saturday, 2%25 Sunday, and 3%25 Cyber Monday.

A different kind of Black Friday weekend

One wrinkle with Black Friday and Cyber Monday is that the queries containing those actual terms were less present than 2019 for the two weeks ending on Cyber Monday. Queries containing “Black Friday” were down 36% and, while “Cyber Monday” queries saw 6% growth, the figure lags the 16% growth of retail all up.

One factor potentially at play is that the National Retail Federation (NRF) noted more than half of holiday shoppers (52%) said they took advantage of early holiday promotions this year. An almost equal percentage of shoppers (53%) said they felt the deals over the holiday weekend were the same as they had been weeks prior.

Another element is a rise in related queries that can provide similar results. Searches containing “gift” more than doubled compared to 2019, signaling a slightly different avenue consumers are taking to reach their shopping destination. This is particularly important for advertisers as traffic on these queries typically does not peak until mid-December, still leaving precious time to reach your audience. In fact, 91% of shoppers expect deals to continue through the end of the year according to NRF.­­

Buy-online-pickup-in-store (BOPIS) played an outsized role for the 14-day period ending on Cyber Monday. Compared to 2019, search volume was up 330%. Even contrasted against the already elevated searches for pickup options in 2020, the spike of the past weeks is notable.

Chart depicting search volume on buy online pickup in store queries for 14 days ending on Cyber Monday. Search volume was up 330%25.

Home and hobbies saw the greatest YoY change

The further impact of COVID-19 is seen comparing week-over-week (WoW) category click changes for the 7-day period ending on Cyber Monday from 2019 and 2020. Some categories saw practically no change at all—baked goods remained as relevant as ever, for example. Product categories that provide the means and reasons to stay outside saw greater lifts this year with yard & garden accessories and sweaters leading the way. There was also large demand for apparel, like cold-weather gear and athleisure, and home entertainment, like streaming services, wireless and cable plans, and gaming systems. Certain hobbies were on the rise too. Cookie jars & bread boxes clicks grew WoW in 2020 despite seeing a double-digit drop during 2019 as new bakers need somewhere to place their tasty creations.

Chart depicting week over week click lift for Black Friday week versus the week prior in 2019 and 2020. Yard & Garden Accessories clicks were up 20%25 in 2020, Sweaters 18%25, and Cookie Jars & Bread Boxes 20%25.

Earlier purchase decisions, a shift in major queries, and growth in categories well-suited to pandemic life are the current hallmarks of the holiday shopping season, but with weeks to go before the close, plenty of opportunity still exists in the marketplace as consumers finish out their wish lists. Utilize rising queries like those containing “gift,” and categories that are seeing unseasonal growth, to deliver success in the time left this holiday season.

Microsoft Advertising Insights is here to bring you the latest data to help you make informed decisions as you plan the rest of your holiday campaigns. We hope you find these search insights from this year’s Black Friday through Cyber Monday shopping days valuable, and that you feel empowered to integrate some of these insights into the remainder of your holiday campaigns. To learn more about how to leverage Microsoft Advertising holiday shopping-related features like Microsoft Shopping Campaigns and Local Inventory Ads, check out our new Holiday 2020 Advertising 5-minute News Flash video series. For more retail-related content, product updates, and actionable checklists, check out our dedicated retail hub at aka.ms/AllAboutRetail.

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