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Thanksgiving’s biggest online shopping day was Cyber Monday, but other days were close behind


5 min read

This post is also available in bahasa Indonesia, ไทย.

November comes, the temperatures start to get colder for most of the planet's population (87% live in the Northern Hemisphere) and many are also starting to prepare for the festive season. That also brings significant changes in Internet traffic, most notably the online shopping kind of traffic.

So, what were the November days that e-commerce websites had the most traffic in the US and what about worldwide? Is humanity using more mobile Internet at this time? And what are the most popular days online — is Black Friday the winner?

We’ll dig into those questions using Cloudflare Radar. E-commerce is expanding and at an all-time high, especially after the pandemic accelerated the digital transformation process (e-commerce had a 32.4% increase in sales in the US in 2020 and is expected to grow this year).

Cyber Monday, a ‘last minute’ winner

Let’s start with e-commerce — we added a chart to Radar that shows trends for e-commerce by country. The worldwide trend is pretty evident: Cyber Monday, the day for supposedly last-minute discounts, was the clear winner.

#1. Cyber Monday, November 29.

#2. Monday, November 22.

#3. Black Friday, November 26 — November 24 is pretty close to Black Friday. All in all a very good week in terms of e-commerce traffic.

US: November e-commerce traffic ‘rain’

When we focus on the United States, the country that instituted Black Friday (the day after US Thanksgiving has since become a “retail bonanza” in other countries), the trend is a little different when we look to the full month of November.

#1. Cyber Monday, November 29.

#2. Tuesday, November 2.

#3. Monday, November 1.

The Black Friday week definitely had a big impact on e-commerce traffic, but besides the clear winner, Cyber Monday, the podium was actually completed with the first two days in November. Those days have a big traffic peak, but the Black Friday week has more sustained traffic over five days.

When we look just at last week, Black Friday isn’t actually the most popular day, it’s Monday, November 22 — that isn’t surprising given that shoppers also “returned to stores” on Black Friday 2021 and didn't do everything online.

Despite this, Black Friday 2021 had definitely more sustained traffic throughout the day. The line in the next chart stays up on November 26 (Black Friday) for several hours after 12:00 UTC, early morning in the US, more than in the previous days.

For example, when we look at the 00:00 UTC mark in those red circles (19:00 US East Coast time; 16:00 US West Coast time), Black Friday evening was the most popular evening of the week — even more than November 22. In the past few days, only Cyber Monday had (a lot) more traffic than Black Friday.

And we can also notice the “pause” in online shopping for Thanksgiving Day (we wrote a blog post about that).

2021: How about the UK, France, Germany or India?

With our new Radar tool for e-commerce websites, everyone can see the trends for their country looking back to the previous seven or 30 days. We can give some interesting examples by looking at some countries.

In the UK, for example, the most popular day was Black Friday, followed by Cyber Monday.

In Germany, Black Friday 2021, followed by Cyber Monday, were the most popular days although there’s a bigger traffic peak on November 2.

In the neighbourhood, ‘down’ in France, the most popular days for e-commerce were Thursday, November 18, and Tuesday, November 23. Those days were even bigger than Black Friday or Cyber Monday — there’s also a clear sustained increase in traffic in the Black Friday week.

Now let’s ‘travel’ to India, the fastest growing online retail market in the world, which also had the Black Friday week as the best week of the month for online shopping. Cyber Monday was the most popular day, followed by Wednesday, November 24, and also Black Friday.

One exception seems to be Japan. The start of the Black Friday week and the end of the previous week were the better periods for online shopping traffic — November 18, 23 and 20 were much better days than Black Friday or Cyber Monday.

The mobile traffic percentage rose by the end of November

Recently blogged about where mobile traffic is the most and least popular in the world and also how in September when most students go back to school (and people go back to work) mobile usage goes down. So mobile trends shift with human habits.

So how about November? If we look at the worldwide trend, it’s pretty clear that after Sunday, November 22, the mobile traffic percentage went up — Internet traffic from mobile devices represented 55% of the total in the past week.

We can also see in the next chart that Black Friday, November 26, saw an increase of more than 4% in the mobile traffic percentage, compared to the same period of the previous month. So, people were using their mobile devices a lot more to go online — 4% more.

Now let’s go to the US, where Thanksgiving (as we explained before) had a big influence on Internet traffic. That trend is even more pronounced, specifically on Thanksgiving day, November 25 (mobile traffic percentage grew more than 6%), but also on Black Friday, November 26. At the weekend mobile traffic went back down.

And remember: you can keep an eye on Cloudflare Radar to monitor how we see Internet traffic globally and in every country.

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João Tomé|@emot

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