Cyber Monday Sets Single-Day Online Sales Record in U.S., Major Retailers Experience Outages

Dec. 3, 2015

Cyber Monday Sets Single-Day Online Sales Record in U.S., Major Retailers Experience Outages Online shoppers spent a U.S. one-day record $3.1 billion on Monday, according to digital measurement firm comScore, but several major retailers (and one prominent payment provider) couldn’t keep up with the surge in online traffic. Websites at Target, Victoria’s Secret, Neiman Marcus and Foot Locker along with PayPal all went down temporarily on the busiest online shopping day of the year, which some experts have attributed to high mobile traffic. While the online channel is maturing in the U.S., the issues that plagued high-profile retailers on Monday highlight that some still aren’t fully prepared for the growth in online and mobile commerce.

“Though we do not know the specific cause of the issues, it clearly emphasizes the importance in providing customers with a consistent and reliable customer experience and how any disruption can quickly become front page and perhaps unwanted news,” Michele Dupré, group vice president of retail, hospitality and distribution for Verizon Enterprise Solutions, told “As retailers become more reliant on their multichannel strategy for customer engagement, the ability to understand and anticipate demand is critical. No matter how much demand surges at peak times during the holiday season, delays are unacceptable, and when customers have to wait, retailers risk customer churn.” 

According to comScore, online transactions originating from desktops, laptops and mobile devices rose 21 percent from nearly $2.6 billion last year to more than $3.1 billion this year, making it the biggest online shopping day in U.S. history (although that number was dwarfed by the more than $14 billion spent in China last month on Singles Day ). For the first time this year, the Sunday preceding Cyber Monday topped $1 billion in online sales. Despite the trouble experienced by Target, among others, the company was able to bounce back with a strong showing, according to comScore chairman emeritus Gian Fulgoni.

“Despite some talk of Cyber Monday declining in importance, the day’s historical highs and continued strong growth rates confirm it is still a hugely important shopping event,” said Fulgoni. “It comes as no surprise that Amazon led all online retail properties in Cyber Monday traffic, but several multi-channel retailers such Walmart and Target also had very strong showings. Although some Web sites experienced unfortunate server problems on Cyber Monday that appear to have been caused by heavy mobile traffic, it’s not yet clear what the impact was for those retailers. What is clear is that the consumer economy is still healthy, and it’s looking optimistic that the success of Black Friday weekend and Cyber Monday will carry on throughout the rest of the season.”

Mobile transactions on Monday accounted for more nearly 27 percent of online sales this year, rising 53 percent from last year to an estimated $838 million.