First weekend of year generates highest online shopping traffic of holiday season

The first weekend in January generated the highest online shopping traffic volumes since the start of the holiday shopping season, according to the Verizon Retail Index. Traffic surpassed Black Friday weekend, Super Saturday weekend and the day after Christmas weekend.

Year over year, on Friday, Jan. 2, online traffic was up three points, and up four points on Jan. 4.

The successful weekend can be attributed to new seasonal promotions created by retailers and weather.

The same shopping weekend in 2013, inclement weather plagued much of the country. This most likely contributed to the slight dip in online traffic, as consumers were less focused on online shopping. However, New Year's Day 2015 captured consumers' attention and shoppers took advantage of retail deals.

These shopping traffic results yield several lessons for retailers.

"With holiday promotions continuing through yesterday (Jan. 4), the season demonstrated that Black Friday is no longer the only factor for driving spikes in online shopping traffic," said Michele Dupré, VP of retail and hospitality, Verizon Enterprise Solutions. "In addition, gift cards gave consumers a higher sense of discretionary income late in the season. Overall, retailers had to be nimble to accommodate the higher traffic over a longer duration than we've seen previously."

Dupré notes that the results show retailers had to be more aggressive this year in their promotions than in the past.

Moving into the new year, retailers will have to continually engage consumers if they want to keep up that momentum. "Going forward, retailers will need to have a solid e-commerce platform with the right level of capacity to support customer demand as online shopping continues to increase," she added.

The 2014 holiday selling season started slow, with sluggish online traffic and sales over Black Friday, with even Cyber Monday resulting in typical Monday sales.

The slow start also affected physical stores. According to the National Retail Federation's Thanksgiving Weekend Spending survey, traffic over the four days dropped 5.2 percent from 2013, and the total number of same shopper trips was also down to 233.3 million shoppers from 248.6 million the previous year.

For more:
-See this Verizon Enterprise Solutions press release

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