Amazon's dominance of online retail in the U.S. was on fully display this Thanksgiving and on Black Friday according to data collected by Hitwise.

According to the competitive intelligence and consumer insights firm, Amazon processed 5.6m transactions on Thanksgiving Day and 7.1m transactions on Black Friday.

All told, of the top 50 retailers in the U.S., Amazon captured nearly half (45.1%) of all transactions on Thanksgiving Day and over half (54.9%) of transactions on Black Friday.

These figures far eclipsed the second and third most prolific online sellers, Walmart and Best Buy, which accounted for 13.9% and 8.3% of all transactions on Thanksgiving Day and 8.8% and 5% of all transactions on Black Friday, respectively, demonstrating just how well Amazon's formidability extends to the holiday shopping season despite significant efforts by the competition.

But that doesn't mean that other retailers weren't able to find success. While Amazon led top 50 retailers in transactions processed on both Thanksgiving Day and Black Friday, Shutterfly managed to top Amazon's conversion rate by 1.4% (8% to 6.6%) on Thanksgiving Day.

And despite the fact that Amazon's conversion rate rose to 7.7% on Black Friday, it slipped to fourth place in the conversion rate battle that day as Old Navy, Shutterfly and LL Bean managed to convince a greater percentage of their shoppers to complete a purchase.

Of course, Old Navy's 9.1% conversion ratio on Black Friday, which bested Amazon's by 1.4%, almost certainly came at a cost as the apparel retailer offered 50% discounts to lure shoppers.

Strategy matters

Amazon's ability to drive lots of transactions and maintain high conversions on both key shopping days is not surprising, but looking at retailers not named Amazon reveals just how greatly strategy impacted sales and conversion rates.

For instance, Costco had the eighth most transactions of the top 50 U.S. retailers on Thanksgiving Day, but didn't register in the top 10 for transactions on Black Friday. Apple, on the other hand, wasn't in the top 10 on Thanksgiving Day but jumped to number six on the transactions chart on Black Friday as its conversion rate more than doubled from 0.7% to 1.7% on those days thanks to its "one day shopping event".

Of course, it's still too early to determine which strategies will win out. That's because the battle for consumer holiday shopping dollars is increasingly a marathon and not a sprint.

As The Houston Chronicle's Paul Takahashi pointed out, Black Friday is less important than it used to be. Some retailers start their holiday shopping promotions early – Old Navy actually started its 50% off promotion the day before Thanksgiving – in an attempt to capture as much spend as they can before consumers tap themselves out while others take Thanksgiving Day off and focus on Black Friday and Cyber Monday.

Ultimately, it's probably safe to say that there is no one correct way for retailers to play the holiday shopping season and between Amazon's growing dominance and the tectonic shifts in the retail industry generally, it's already apparent that retailers are taking significantly different approaches.

Patricio Robles

Published 28 November, 2017 by Patricio Robles

Patricio Robles is a tech reporter at Econsultancy. Follow him on Twitter.

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Comments (1)

Pete Austin

Pete Austin, Founder and Author at Fresh Relevance

Very interesting data! Amazon is clearly doing great, but those those figures seem to be #transactions, than rather #revenue, which may overstate its dominance.

Amazon's technique of running lots of limited-time deals in the period around Black Friday will tend to result in lots of little transactions, with just one attractive deal in the cart. Other retailers who offer e.g. a general 30% off may lead to bigger carts containing multiple items.

Here are our Web Traffic figures for Black Friday 2017 weekend. They look *very* similar to last year, with Black Friday at 244% of normal - a long way ahead of Thanksgiving Thursday at 173% and Cyber Monday at 155%.

8 months ago

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