As the holiday shopping season winds down, it’s time for our fifth and final Accertify Holiday Tracker!
As a reminder, we author bi-monthly synopses of what we are seeing in eCommerce compared to last year against a backdrop of broader macroeconomic trends. Because we are trusted to protect 40% of Digital Commerce 360’s Top 100 merchants1, The Top 10 airlines in the US*, 8 of the Top 10 global airlines* and leading entertainment and iGaming properties*, we have unique insights to transaction volumes across the world’s marquee brands. If you missed the last Accertify Holiday Tracker — read it here.
*Based on annual revenue.
For this post, we’ll evaluate December 1 – December 15 across retail, travel, entertainment, and iGaming industries globally comparing 2022 to 2021.
Each year there is a strong buildup, anticipation and genuine media fascination with Black Friday and Cyber Monday. Pundits try to guess the seasonal increases and decreases and sort out what it all means. Interestingly, once it’s over, a feeling of malaise sets in, and everyone moves on. Rarely does December get much press or attention. One of the reasons we decided to continue the Holiday Tracker through December 15th is we get to see the full picture and spot the key drivers. I’m glad we stuck with it because this year was no different.
First, across our network, Retail continues to show moderate growth. While you may look at the chart above and see it grew 1.38% YoY – that doesn’t tell the whole story. In the opening 15 days of December, we saw more volume than in the last 15 days of November and that period included two powerhouse days of Black Friday and Cyber Monday. So, what going on? Looking back, it’s now clear that from mid-October through mid-November purchases experienced a YoY dip (we saw that in our numbers). Shoppers waited. The discounts and promotions came. Shoppers returned. In fact, on December 14th, we processed 45.3M transactions, our third largest volume day of the year. It’s not totally out of the blue as this day is universally the last day to order online via “normal” shipping and still be guaranteed to receive your items before Santa arrives. While goods are more expensive this year due to inflation, discounting was one of the biggest factors, we believe, that produced solid volume numbers in the first half of December and overall drove the holiday shopping season.
Second, travel and entertainment were the comeback kids of this holiday season. In the December 1-15th period, we saw YoY growth of 27% and 24%, respectively. In fairness, those percentage gains need to be put into context. At this time last year, the Omicron variant had emerged, and overnight it posed significant challenges to both industries leading to muted volumes and thus outsized gains this year. But the industries have both regained their footing, managed capacity constraints, and are recording record revenues. As more organizations have introduced hybrid working arrangements (full disclosure: Accertify’s parent company, American Express, introduced Amex Flex earlier this year and its proven quite popular to balance time in the office with colleagues and retain the benefits of being able to work from home), vacations aren’t limited to weekends and a few weeks in the summer. The blending of business and leisure travel is creating flexibility that previously didn’t exist and we are seeing that manifested in consistent, day over day, booking volumes from legacy carriers to ultra-low-cost carriers, both domestically and internationally. United Airlines recently said that its flights are almost 10% more full on Tuesdays and Wednesdays2. Time will tell if the trend continues through 2023. Perhaps going to Europe or Hawaii, or one of your favorite destinations, will just get old and boring and not worth the effort. Doubt it. If you happen to see me in shorts and t-shirt in a middle seat on a Tuesday, remember, I’m working.
As we look back at the first half of December, Accertify’s clients’ transaction volumes across all industries, increased 7.43% YoY. Finally, across all 5 Holiday Trackers covering the period of October 1st through December 15th, we saw YoY transaction growth of 10.1%. That’s positive and a good metric to close out the year.
From all of us at Accertify, we wish you a wonderful holiday season and a Happy New Year!
1: Based on annual websales as reported to: https://www.digitalcommerce360.com/about-our-databases/