The 10 Things Shoppers Have Abandoned Most In Online Shopping Carts This Holiday Season (And Why)


The peak of the holiday shopping frenzy seems to have come and gone in a blink of an eye, but the data continues to pour in. The user-experience analytics company ContentSquare analyzed over 29 million online shopping sessions across 14 retail accounts during the 3.5 month holiday period to get a sense of what items were people abandoning in their carts — and why.

In order of most abandoned:

1. Watches

2. Jewelry

3. Perfumes

4. Makeup

5. Skincare

6. Shoes

7. Children’s clothes

8. Home items

9. Spirits

10. Food

OK, so why?

ContentSquare CEO Jonathan Cherki said that items considered as ‘extras’ are left behind much more than items considered as necessities — logical, right? So as a result, when the time comes to complete a purchase, people will hesitate much less when buying something they need (like food) than something they want but don’t need. Sometimes people use carts as wishlists, to save items they liked for later. Cherki suggested that this is not the experience brands should offer; they should have separate wishlists with different features than the cart for this purpose.

Watches, Jewelry, and Perfumes

When people shop for luxury items, such as watches, jewelry, and even perfumes, many times they reach the cart and they don’t buy — and it happens for two reasons. Sometimes, as mentioned above, the cart is being used as a wishlist. But most of the time they reach the cart, they see the price which seems too expensive, and they regret their intention to buy. They tell themselves they don’t really need it (we’ve all been there). This is where brands need to improve the experience and encourage them to buy. and can be done through strategic incentives that encourage an impulsive buy. Keep in mind, luxury shoppers are more likely to convert on the first visit than e-commerce visitors so we could say they are buying on impulse.

Makeup and Skincare

Regarding makeup and skincare, these are usually items that people buy for themselves. During the holiday, people will give up their personal items in favor of buying gifts for other people, and therefore makeup and skincare are left behind.

Children’s Clothes & Shoes

These are abandoned much less than other items because, following the previous point, it is easier to buy for someone else. Buying for children comes with a feeling of satisfaction that you are investing your money in the right people, so there is much less frustration. Also, since children grow out of clothes quickly and they can be considered as a necessary item and not extras, people are used to buying children’s clothes so the familiarity makes the process easier, quicker, and less abandoned. Depending on who you’re shopping for, the same applies to shoes (especially if you already know a particular brand and size that’s right for you or anyone you’re buying for).


Spirits are the next-to-last least abandoned items. Again, during holidays, people are hosting dinners and get-togethers and alcoholic beverages are usually a staple in these events. They will not consider hosting without, so these purchases are not abandoned. Champagne sold more than beer and wine in the holiday season, which points to the festive nature of these purchases. It’s no surprise that there’s a continued emergence of on-demand alcoholic delivery services (like Drizly), which make the process that much more streamlined, convenient, accessible, and novel. Another thing to keep in mind is that usually people know what spirits they like, and they want to offer. Since you can’t taste new drinks online, people will stick to items they know they enjoy and will be determined to complete the purchase.


Food and groceries are the least abandoned items, not only because they are the classic definition of necessities, but because the purchasing experience for them online is very similar to the experience offline! When the gap between the online and offline experience is too big, the abandon rate is big – as you can see in luxury items.

Closing the [Abandonment] Gap is a Necessity

Users on mobile have a 35% higher abandoned cart rate than from desktop. This highlights the fact that mobile experiences are not yet optimized for conversions. Responsive websites are no longer enough. Experiences must be optimized for mobile devices. Avis understood this and saw a 27% increase in mobile conversions and a 63% increase in mobile upsells after optimizing the mobile experience (based on ContentSquare insights). This optimization included a simplification of the check-out process — less clicks, and less screens — and a change in strategy regarding details needed in order to complete the process.

In summary, Cherki shared,

When the gap is small, the abandon rate is small as well. Experiences must be tailored to the online customer. It is not effective to offer the same online check-out experience for Saks Fifth Avenue, and for Walmart and it’s time brands invested in their unique online experience.”

As shopping experiences continue to evolve, we’ll definitely see what’s in store (or out of cart) in 2018 and how retailers will cater to that shift.

Tom is a serial e-commerce entrepreneur passionate about the creation + delivery of transformative digital experiences at scale. Content Strategist. Advisor at GadgetFlow. Connect on LinkedIn.