2018 Holiday Performance Benchmarks

Feb 13, 2019
Written by Sandrine Thompson

The CJ Affiliate global network during Holiday 2018 experienced solid revenue and order growth driven by strong shopper interest in purchasing apparel, smartphones, beauty items, and sporting goods over the holiday shopping period.


Daily sales performance reinforced the familiar narrative that Black Friday and Cyber Monday are the season’s shopping events that reliably draws shoppers—order volumes on Cyber Monday were four times higher than any other day of the holiday season and US network revenue growth on Black Friday increased 30 percent year over year.

A full analysis of Holiday 2018, plus strategies for Holiday 2019, will be released by CJ Affiliate in July in our annual Holiday Intelligence Report. Until then, we’ve prepared performance benchmarks to assist you with your post-holiday analysis. Read on for an overview of the findings and download our Holiday Performance Benchmarks.

Clothing is No. 1

This past holiday season, shoppers leaned heavily on apparel retailers for their gift-buying and purchasing. In the CJ network, sales in the Clothing & Apparel category increased 31% YOY and total sales exceeded the combined sales of the network’s Computer & Electronics and Home & Garden categories. Shoppers were drawn to strong offers that apparel retailers presented on Black Friday and Cyber Monday, and shoppers heavily purchased casual “athleisure” wear and affordable work-wear. Credit issuer Mastercard reported last month that it tracked 7.9% YOY growth in apparel sales, the strongest growth since 2010.


Thanksgiving Day Bonanza

Shopper engagement and willingness to buy on Thanksgiving Day was at an all-time high. Thanksgiving Day’s YOY growth in orders and revenue was 19% and 20%, respectively—beating the YOY growth for Cyber Monday and just slightly behind Black Friday’s single-day growth rate. As the third highest revenue day of the holiday season across all categories, Thanksgiving has earned a place as a bona fide promotional holiday for both marketers and shoppers.


November vs. December

Due to strong demand and growth on Thanksgiving, Black Friday and Cyber Monday, a strong November is critical to a successful holiday season for US affiliate programs. This year, US retailers in the CJ network earned 59% of their holiday season sales in November and 41% in December. Affiliate clients in the United Kingdom and Europe experienced a similar ratio of sales distribution, but the European tradition of waiting until December to fully engage in holiday shopping continues to hold fast. In the United Kingdom the share of sales completed in December increased 14 percent YOY.

With 32 days between Thanksgiving Day and Christmas, this holiday season’s prime shopping period was an unusually long one, yet shoppers again waited until mid to late December to do much of their shopping. Despite a continued effort on the part of European marketers to build on Black Friday’s popularity as a key shopping day in the US, Black Friday growth abroad this year was modest. Black Friday sales in the UK this year increased 5% YOY and 6% YOY in Europe.


Shoppers Beyond the US

Markets beyond the US increased their contribution to US retailer’s holiday sales, as CJ’s efforts to help advertisers expand into new markets continues to bear fruit. Holiday season sales from LATAM countries, most notably Mexico and Brazil, increased 68% and 170% YOY, respectively. In terms of order volume, Canada remains the largest cross-border market for US retailers with sales from Canadian shoppers increasing 14% YOY. In the APAC region, Korea and China drove the greatest volume of sales, although sales from both countries were down slightly YOY, while sales from Australia increased 14%.


Shopping on Smartphones

Shoppers increased their usage of smartphones for completing their holiday shopping by 17% YOY in the US, with orders on smartphones now accounting for 30% of holiday season sales for US retailers. In the UK, the share of sales was even higher and grew even faster. 38% of sales to UK retail holiday sales were completed on smartphones, reflecting a 22% increase over last year. In Europe, usage of smartphones for holiday shopping increased 43% YOY and now accounts for 25% of all holiday season sales. The growing usage and dominance of smartphones for shopping has come at the expense of tablets. Across all markets in the CJ network, tablet usage for holiday shopping experienced high double-digit declines.

For a complete overview of the findings, download CJ Affiliate’s Holiday Performance Benchmarks.

Download Report


Methodology: Growth values were calculated using same store retail sales tracked in the CJ network through November 1 – December 31 and compared against 2017 same day sales.

Topics: Retail, Holiday,
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