It was inevitable that Black Friday Cyber Monday would be a little different in 2020. The COVID-19 pandemic prompted a massive shift in how we shop and how merchants get their goods into the hands of customers. But what would that mean for 2021?
Every BFCM, we follow our merchants’ online sales in real time. For 2021, we wanted to see if the trends established last year would continue.
BFCM serves as a microcosm of global commerce and offers a glimpse for the year to come. To fully grasp where things are headed, we need to analyze more than sales data—we need to reflect on how independent businesses adapted, how consumers responded, and what this means for 2022 and beyond.
Here’s what we found.
Shopping season has officially begun
There have been stumbling blocks on the road to economic recovery from COVID-19, but despite those challenges, independent merchants rallied to make 2021 the most successful BFCM to date.
Shopify store owners collectively made a whopping $6.3 billion USD in sales globally between Black Friday and Cyber Monday, a 23% increase from 2020.
This shows some great strategy on the part of business owners. Supply chain issues and shipping delays have made it difficult for businesses to meet customer demands, but early planning and promoting sales well before BFCM helped mitigate this challenge.
The BFCM trends that are here to stay—and the ones that are moving on
The big question for BFCM 2021 is whether the shopping trends that emerged during 2020 would continue or wane as retailers returned to business as usual. We found that even as things change and reopen, consumers are continuing to shop in new ways.
1. People are still shopping small in a big way
Closures during COVID-19 hit small businesses the hardest as these were the most likely to be deemed non-essential. But along with that came a movement to shop at independent retailers and help local favourites weather the storm.
In 2021, customers continued to shop small as businesses were able to open up again.
Holiday shoppers once again sided with independents in a big way. During BFCM, more than 47 million consumers globally purchased from independent and direct-to-consumer brands powered by Shopify.
Hourly sales peaked on Black Friday at 12 p.m. ET, the same as in 2020.
2. Alternative fulfillment options are still in high demand
Last year brought fresh demand for both curbside pickup and local delivery. That has continued into 2021.
In the US, the average curbside pickup cart price was $96.60, up from $79.84 in 2020, and in Canada it was $115.14 CAD, up from $94.93.
The top three cities for curbside pickup in the US were Los Angeles, Honolulu, and Chicago. In Canada, they were Toronto, Calgary, and Vancouver.
Some categories were also more popular than others for curbside pickup, with apparel and accessories, home and garden, and health and beauty making it into the most shopping carts in the US.
Local delivery is also still going strong, with the average cart price at $97.40 for BFCM 2021 in the US. In Canada, the average total was $120.75 CAD for local delivery.
The top US cities for local delivery were New York, Los Angeles, and Brooklyn, and in Canada it was Toronto, Calgary, and Ottawa.
The top categories for local delivery in the US were apparel and accessories, food and beverage, and home and garden.
3. Cross-border shopping is still a cornerstone of commerce
If the last two years taught us anything, it’s that relying on a single market or channel can leave your business vulnerable. The ability to ship globally can supercharge your business. And that’s exactly what many Shopify business owners did this year.
During BFCM 2021, 15% of all orders globally were cross-border.
Customers in particular countries are especially accustomed to international orders. We saw the most cross-border action going from the US to Canada, Canada to the US, and the UK to the US. The top item categories for these international sales were apparel and accessories, health and beauty, and home and garden.
In our increasingly connected world, the ability to support international customers is a huge advantage. Although this has traditionally been a challenge for small businesses, Shopify is making it easier than ever with a global-by-default approach.
4. Mobile is (still) king
You shouldn’t be surprised to learn that more customers than ever are making Black Friday Cyber Monday purchases from their phones.
Mobile sales first surpassed desktop in 2014 and have only continued to dominate.
In 2021, 71% of BFCM purchases were made from mobile devices, compared to 29% on desktops.
That’s an increase in mobile shopping from 2020 when 67% of sales were made on mobile and 33% were made on desktop.
5. Customers want to get social
Customers are eager to buy from social without having to leave the app they’re shopping in. Therefore an integration should be a part of your social media marketing strategy. These integrations allow customers to browse products right from an app like Instagram, add an item to their cart, and check out all in one place.
For BFCM 2021, the number of sales generated by seamless social integrations almost tripled compared to 2020.
6. Customers care about sustainability—and so do we
Consumers care about sustainability and ethical consumption, but price and shipping times often inhibit those good intentions. So we’re addressing that head on.
We know that an average of one kilogram of carbon is emitted into the atmosphere for every package shipped. On a high-traffic shopping weekend like BFCM, shipping emissions grow significantly.
Which is why during this BFCM weekend, Shopify offset all carbon emissions from the delivery of every order placed on our platform, resulting in nearly 60,000 tonnes of carbon emissions offset.
A round of applause
The pandemic has brought along some of the biggest challenges Shopify merchants have ever faced, but this year’s BFCM data shows they’re coming through stronger than ever with an eye on the future.
We’ve seen the resilience of small businesses on full display these last two years. Breaking sales records once again just proves that entrepreneurs can overcome any obstacle. So, we’ll end with this: thank you to independent businesses everywhere. Your ability to adapt, pivot, and thrive—against all odds—is worthy of celebration today.