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Adobe reads the crystal ball for 2013 online shopping season

The company releases its Online Holiday Shopping Forecast, which predicts a handful of billion-dollar spending days, a rise in mobile shopping, and Thanksgiving treading into Black Friday territory.

Adobe Digital Index

What happens when you crunch billions of bytes of data? You can come up with some pretty good predictions.

Adobe Digital Index unveiled its crystal ball prophecies for this year's online shopping season, and it looks like it's going to be a doozy. Not only does Adobe Systems predict this year will see the highest-ever online spending during the US holiday season, but Thanksgiving, Black Friday, and Cyber Monday will break records.

"Thanksgiving is the fastest-growing shopping day, and that's the biggest news this year. Cyber Monday will have the highest online sales in history," Adobe Digital Index principal analyst Tamara Gaffney told CNET. "There are a few days in the season that are billion-dollar days."

By the numbers, Adobe estimates that Cyber Monday shopping will be up 15 percent, Black Friday will be up 17 percent, and Thanksgiving will shoot up 21 percent. As far as online sales, Adobe forecasts Cyber Monday spending to break more than $2.27 billion in the highest single US online shopping day ever. Last year, Cyber Monday spending was estimated at nearly $1.5 billion.

While Adobe is known for its software, it also provides marketing cloud technology to the top 500 US retailers, which allows it to make its Online Holiday Shopping Forecast. For this year's predictions, Adobe sorted through nearly half a trillion visits to more than 2,000 retail sites over the last seven years. Adobe's predictive model from last year was within 1 percent of the actuals.

While Adobe is estimating spending in the billions, this year's holiday season is shorter than usual. In fact, it's six days less than last year and the shortest season the US has seen since 2002. This abridged holiday season will create a different shopping environment for consumers and retailers, according to Adobe.

The shortened season could fuel more online spending, Adobe forecasts. This is because people will have less time to shop in brick-and-mortar stores and therefore will be multitasking. They might shop on their smartphone while waiting in line at stores or peruse their tablet as they watch Thanksgiving Day football. In a survey, consumers told Adobe they will shop 40 percent more this year from their mobile device. Many shoppers will also search for more deals via their smartphone.

"They see their mobile phone as their bargain-hunting weapon," Gaffney said.

This gets to the reason why Thanksgiving is the fastest-growing shopping day -- because retailers are rolling back promotions even earlier than normal. So, instead of launching sales on Black Friday, they're starting on Thanksgiving. Adobe predicts that once this precedent is set, the same will happen in years to come.

"Thanksgiving could take over Black Friday in five years," Gaffney said. "Thanksgiving will have the highest of mobile sales of any day this season. Many consumers won't leave their homes but they do want to start shopping."

Adobe Digital Index