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Salesforce Reveals 2020 was the Biggest Holiday Season Ever for Digital Sales

Salesforce (NYSE: CRM), the global leader in CRM, today released its 2020 Holiday Shopping Report, highlighting data and trends that shaped the holiday season and will impact how consumers shop in 2021. Salesforce data shows a 50 percent increase in digital spend over the 2019 shopping season, making it one of the biggest digital holiday shopping seasons to date. Consumers spent $1.1 trillion online worldwide and $236 billion in the U.S., compared to $723 billion worldwide and $165 billion in the U.S. in 2019. 


Top Salesforce 2020 Holiday Shopping Insights

Salesforce combined insights from over one billion global shoppers across more than 40 countries powered by Commerce Cloud during the holiday season—between November 1 and December 31, 2020. This season’s top highlights and trends include:


  • Digital commerce surged later in the year, despite an earlier start to the holiday season: Although retailers kicked off holiday discounts and promotions earlier in October, the bulk of this year’s digital sales were still generated during traditional shopping holidays. Total Cyber Week digital sales reached $270 billion globally and $60 billion in the U.S., while the first two weeks of December accounted for $181 billion in global sales and $39 billion in the U.S. 
  • Retailers offering curbside and other pickup options grew almost twice as fast as those that didn’t: With strained shipping systems and consumers prioritizing safety, retailers with curbside, drive-through and in-store pickup options outperformed those without these services. U.S. retailers that offered these options increased digital revenue by 49 percent on average year-over-year, while retailers that didn't only saw 28 percent average growth year-over-year. Retailers offering curbside, drive-through and in-store pickup options also experienced 54 percent digital revenue growth year-over-year in the five days leading up to Christmas, compared to 34 percent growth for those that didn’t.  
  • Consumers embraced financing options: With consumers looking to pay for big ticket holiday gifts in installments, buy now, pay later usage saw a year-over-year increase of 109 percent, with the biggest increase taking place the week before Christmas.
  • Sporting Goods and Home Goods were the hottest product categories: Revenue for Sporting Goods grew 108 percent compared to the previous year, Home Goods grew 89 percent and Food and Beverage kept pace with 80 percent growth. Active Apparel (35 percent), Footwear (39 percent) and General Apparel (40 percent) experienced the least growth in revenue this holiday season. 
  • Retailers brace for “returnageddon”: Over $330 billion in online purchases are expected to be returned globally—about 30 percent of all purchases made—as a result of this holiday’s ecommerce spike. 


"The 2020 holiday season was defined by the pandemic and forced retailers and brands to innovate quickly with the introduction of services like curbside pickup, virtual concierges and a focus on social, messaging and live streaming to reach shoppers in new ways,” said Rob Garf, VP, Industry Strategy for Retail, Salesforce. “We expect to see these new innovations remain in 2021 with holiday strategies becoming the new standard that consumers expect from their favorite retailers and brands.”


Salesforce Powers the Holiday Season

As the pandemic forced shoppers out of stores and into the world of ecommerce, Salesforce helped retailers around the world double down on digital as they navigated new challenges, including scaling their ecommerce operations. Between November 1 and December 31, 2020, Salesforce customers drove more than 204 million online orders on Commerce Cloud, while delivering fast, easy and personalized digital experiences to shoppers. 


  • Commerce Cloud: Digital sales powered by Commerce Cloud grew 76 percent year-over-year this holiday season. 


  • Marketing Cloud: Global marketing communications made through Marketing Cloud overall surged this holiday with 7.2 billion push notifications, 3.7 billion SMS messages and 129 billion total emails sent, as marketers engaged consistently throughout the season.


  • Einstein: Artificial intelligence continued to play a role in how consumers shopped this holiday season. Einstein accounted for 11 percent of digital orders, growing 25 percent year-over-year.


  • Service Cloud: Service Cloud: Agents viewed or worked on cases more than 14.5 billion times and received more than 946 million customer service calls this holiday season through Service Cloud.



Additional Resources:


2020 Salesforce Holiday Insights and Predictions Methodology


To help retailers and brands benchmark holiday performance, Salesforce combined data and holiday insights on the activity of over one billion global shoppers across more than 40 countries powered by Commerce Cloud, billions of consumer engagements and millions of public social media conversations through Marketing Cloud, and customer service data powered by Service Cloud. Several factors are subsequently applied to extrapolate projections and actuals for the broader retail industry.


To qualify for inclusion in the analysis set, a digital commerce site must have transacted throughout the analysis period, in this case November 1, 2018 through December 31, 2020, and meet a monthly minimum visit threshold. Additional data hygiene factors are applied to help ensure consistent metric calculation.


The Salesforce holiday predictions are not indicative of the operational performance of Salesforce or its reported financial metrics including GMV growth and comparable customer GMV growth.


About Salesforce


Salesforce, the global CRM leader, empowers companies of every size and industry to digitally transform and create a 360° view of their customers. For more information about Salesforce (NYSE: CRM), visit:


Any unreleased services or features referenced in this or other press releases or public statements are not currently available and may not be delivered on time or at all. Customers who purchase Salesforce applications should make their purchase decisions based upon features that are currently available. Salesforce has headquarters in San Francisco, with offices in Europe and Asia, and trades on the New York Stock Exchange under the ticker symbol "CRM." For more information please visit, or call 1-800-NO-SOFTWARE. Please find more information below and further trends data here.

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