2017 Online Holiday Shopping Data

The holiday season is in full swing, and cities across the U.S. are experiencing high purchasing activity this time of year. While technology may have changed the traditional shopping experience, data shows that it serves as no hindrance to the purchasing ability of shoppers around the world. The Rudin Center used Shopify data to analyze the peak shopping weekend in North America, Black Friday and Cyber Monday.


What is Shopify?

Shopify is an e-commerce platform for online stores and retail point-of-sale systems. The platform works in almost every country and accepts a large number of currencies. There are 500,000 businesses powered by Shopify with over $46 billion in items sold.

During Black Friday and Cyber Monday (BFCM) weekend, $1 billion worth of items were sold on the online platform. Below is a breakdown of item categories.

top items
Source: shopify.com


Top Locations

Two U.S. cities top the list as some of the highest purchasing cities in the world: New York City accounted for 16% of the BCFM online shopping activity; Los Angeles claimed 12%. Second to NYC is London with 13% of purchasing activity. What’s interesting about these findings is that while all three of these cities had the highest online purchasing activity, they also possess a substantial brick and mortar presence.

Top Devices

The most popular way to buy this year was via mobile device. The following chart illustrates the significance of mobile online shopping in contrast to the desktop. This trend is consistent over both days during the BFCM weekend.

mobile ordering
Source: shopify.com


Once purchased items leave the virtual cart, the next step is shipping. Shopify found that if it totaled the distance of all the packages shipped by each of its merchants, it is the equivalent of 12.6 billion miles. This number is an astounding result that brings to question the potential effects of freight mobility on the infrastructure of major purchasing cities should this trend continue.


The effects of online shopping on urban life are a forthcoming area of study for the NYU Rudin Center; stay tuned for study results in Spring 2018.