As shoppers rush off to scoop up those last-minute gifts, one key theme has emerged from this holiday season: Consumers shifted their purchases online in record numbers and the primary beneficiary of this trend appears to be Amazon.
"Consumer's affinity for digital shopping felt like it hit a tipping point in Holiday 2014 and has rapidly accelerated this year," said Ken Perkins, president of Retail Metrics, in a research note. "Shoppers are transacting on mobile devices at a rapidly increasing rate and e-commerce sales are growing at a phenomenal pace."
Both Black Friday and Cyber Monday sales topped $3 billion and broke single-day e-commerce records, according to Adobe Digital. What's more, this holiday season, virtually every shopping day has topped at least $1 billion in online sales, Adobe said.
Slice Intelligence looked at 1.7 million online shopping receipts collected from Nov. 1 through Dec. 16, and discovered that the lion's share of those online purchases are going to Amazon. The e-commerce giant had a 36.9 percent share of the market.
Best Buy was second but its 3.9 percent market share was only a fraction of Amazon's haul. Target, with a 2.9 percent share, Wal-Mart, with a 2.7 percent share and Macy's, with a 2.5 percent share, followed.
Retailers tested the limits this year by extending shipping deadlines. According to Verizon's Holiday Retail Index report e-commerce traffic volume at U.S.-based retailers was up 19 percent on Thursday compared with the same day last year, hitting a season high to date.
"Conveniences such as extended shipping deadlines are making clear that consumer confidence in supply chain capabilities is high," said Michele Dupre, group vice president for retail, distribution and hospitality with Verizon Enterprise Solutions.
But for those who are still procrastinating, standard shipping deadlines are already past for delivery in time for Christmas. The shopping frenzy in these final hours will be focused on the stores, where analysts say the discounts are deep — perhaps more heavily than planned.
Some retailers have extended their hours to woo as many shoppers as they can. Toys 'R Us opened at 6 a.m. Friday and will go until 9 p.m. on Christmas Eve. Kohl's scheduled a 107-hour marathon, which began Dec. 20 and will last until Dec. 24 at 6 p.m. — a tad shorter than last year's 170-hour streak. Macy's also opened around the clock this week, in some locations, and they are offering a buy online, pick-up at the store option on orders received until noon local time on Christmas Eve.
The National Retail Federation, the industry's trade group, predicts sales for the holiday season will rise 3.6 percent from last year. Many other analysts are projecting sales gains in the 3 to 4 percent range.