Talk to us
When Are People Most Likely to Buy Online?

When Are People Most Likely to Buy Online?


Twitter Share Link Facebook Share Link Linkedin Share Link

Using data from our upcoming 2023 Ecommerce Stats Report and the 2022 Ecommerce Stats Report, we look at traffic and significant buying patterns from online shoppers. We also suggest ways you can improve your conversion rate optimisation strategy.

2020 has set a certain amount of standards in ecommerce – of which we can still see the effects today in 2023. The pandemic changed the way we live our lives (including working habits) and is still impacting the global economy, which has had a direct impact on buying habits and online shopping behaviours.  

For example, we can see that online consumers are purchasing earlier in the day, perhaps down to new working patterns like remote working and a change in the items that are being bought. For example online travel industry marketing statistics look very different in the space of 12 months.

Using a wealth of ecommerce data we compare previous yearly buying and online shopping behaviour with results from 2021 and 2022. We’ve been looking at how sales patterns change during the day, which days of the week are busiest online, and how sales trends look across the whole year. 

Peak Online Shopping Hours 

In 2022 there are two peak hours for online shopping – the first happening at 10am, with a second peak in the evening at the 8pm mark. The evening peak is similar, if not the same, as previous years in ecommerce.

Sales volumes build from between 6am – 7am and remain at a consistent level after this 10am morning peak. Interestingly, in 2022, online buying has increased throughout the middle of the day (traditional working hours) and has slightly decreased in the evening compared to previous years.   

Still, online sales broadly follow people’s daily patterns, with sales dipping overnight before beginning to build up from around 6am, and growing throughout the rest of the day – so this general trend rings true in most recent findings. 

As of November 2022, 38% of workers in Great Britain advised that they had worked from home at some point in the previous seven days (according to a study by Statista). With more remote working becoming the norm since the covid-19 pandemic in 2020, we see an opportunity to become agile with marketing campaigns targeting morning shoppers. These new online buying habits such as the new online fashion retail trends that we see also look set to continue.   

SaleCycle online sales volume by hour 2022

Recover More Online Sales At The Right Time

30-minute meeting with one of our ecommerce experts to discuss your CRO health score.

Best Day of The Week for Online Sales 

In 2020, SaleCycle data found Wednesday and Thursday saw the busiest retail days online for online sales with Saturday being the worst day of the week for online sales. 

However in most recent findings, Monday has taken the lion’s share of online sales for the last two years in a row. Sunday currently bodes the lowest amount of online sales.

The weekend is certainly the quietest time for ecommerce activity, when people have more leisure time and therefore are less likely to be around a device on which they can shop.

SaleCycle online sales volume by day of week 2022

Monthly sales patterns are heavily influenced by pay dates, with the peak days for sales coming at the beginning and end of each month, when people are more likely to have money to spend.

Our 2019 data shows that online sales volume significantly increased between the 25th – 28th of the month. Again – we can attribute this to the impact of payday. 

SaleCycle online sales volume by day of month 2022

Busiest Retail Months 

Looking at sales trends across the calendar year, we can see the effect that big online sales events have on ecommerce sales volumes – as well as the effects of the cost of living crisis in ecommerce. We can see (in the graph below) that spending as a whole has decreased in 2022, most likely due to the extended after-effects of the covid-19 pandemic.

Looking at each month, January (a traditional period for post-Christmas discounting) produces a large sales peak at the beginning of the year, as shoppers go bargain hunting. With stock and sales periods time limited, it can encourage people to make faster decisions to buy.

November and December are the biggest two months of the year by some distance in terms of sales volumes. The biggest online sales events occur during this two month period. Singles’s Day, Black Friday and Cyber Monday and the Christmas shopping period all combine to make these the peak months for online retail. And as we can see below, Black Friday and Cyber Monday show enormous growth from 2019 into 2020.

SaleCycle online sales volume by month 2021 vs. 2022
SaleCycle UK Black Friday online sales 2013 - 2022
SaleCycle Cyber Monday online sales 2013 - 2022

What Can Retailers Learn From Sales Patterns? 

For retailers, knowing the busiest times of each day, week, month, or time of year can help to improve service, performance and build an optimised basket abandonment strategy.

These are general stats across several sectors of ecommerce, and of course some business types will experience different peaks. For example, florists may have their strongest sales periods around Valentines’ Day or Mothers’ Day.

Whenever peak periods fall, there’s a lot ecommerce sites can do to adapt.

Website & Marketing Best Practice For Peak Online Shopping Times 

Knowing When to Provide Help to Customers

Our data shows that the evening is prime time for ecommerce sites, but this is also when many customer service departments are winding down or already closed until the following day. 

To avoid lost sales, it may pay to provide help at this time, and around busy periods in general, when most customers are online, and may have questions about potential purchases. 

Schuh customer service email example

Planning Stock Levels

If retailers know when most sales occur, they can plan inventory around this data, so you don’t run out of stock during key sales periods.

Testing Sites for Performance

Busier periods, especially huge sales events like Black Friday, can test websites to the limit.

Load test to ensure that your site can handle traffic spikes. Even a slightly slower site can deter shoppers through poor usability.

Timing of Marketing Campaigns and New Products

Knowing when people are more likely to be buying can inform marketing activity. For example, it’s important to time the market because this allows you to increase your ROI. For example, busy periods is a prime entry for your cross-selling and upsell strategy to feature in your basket abandonment emails, likewise when you know there will be a greater digital footfall make sure you are ready to make the most of it.

For example, it may be wise to release new products or campaigns towards the end of the month around pay day when people are more likely to buy.

Jo Malone new product email marketing example

Also, in periods that are traditionally quieter, marketing may need to work harder to drive customer interests and boost sales away from peak periods.

Know When to Plan Site Updates

Finally, if you’re redesigning a website, changing platforms, or carrying out some key updates, then knowing sales patterns can help you to do this when fewer customers will be affected.

For more on sales trends, along with a wealth of data on ecommerce, download our 2022 Ecommerce Stats Report.

Reviewed by Brad Ward
Written by Graham Charlton
— Updated on 11/05/2021


⬛️ 2023 Black Friday Ecommerce Strategy & Stats Report

This FREE ebook gives you the methods, solutions & trends for building a high-converting remarketing strategy for Black Friday

2023 Black Friday Ecommerce Strategy & Stats Report

Speak to an expert

Learn how to convert your online audience into revenue with our experts.

Brad Ward

Brad Ward is the SEO & Content Manager at SaleCycle. Brad is a former magazine journalist with over 8 years experience in digital, including SEO, social media and copywriting. Brad has written thousands of articles for a range of different sectors including online gambling, travel, education, sports and ecommerce.