Holiday Online Sales Rose By 9%: Adobe

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Adobe released the Adobe Digital Economy Index*, its final online shopping figures for the holiday season (November 1 to December 31). Consumers spent a total of $204.5 billion over the 2021 holiday season, up 8.6 percent year-over-year (YoY).

A record 38 days surpassed $3 billion in daily spend (25 days in 2020 by comparison), as consumers spread out their shopping outside of big days like Cyber Monday and began earlier.

The weeks before Thanksgiving (November 1 to November 24) grew 19.2 percent YoY, while Cyber Week (5 days between Thanksgiving and Cyber Monday) was down 1.4 percent YoY. The weeks following (November 30 to December 31) grew 5.6 percent YoY.

Demand for online shopping was not deterred by supply chain challenges as retailers contended with congested ports, cargo delays and disruptions in overseas manufacturing.

During the holiday season, consumers saw over six billion out-of-stock messages online. This represented a 253 percent increase over the 2019 holiday season, prior to the pandemic, and a 10 percent increase YoY.

“This holiday shopping season was the first time where big promotional moments like Cyber Monday and Black Friday took on less of the spotlight,” said Taylor Schreiner, senior director, Adobe Digital Insights. “Like we saw during the COVID-19 pandemic, e-commerce has become a ubiquitous daily activity and a flexible way for shoppers to navigate product availability and higher prices.”

Additional insights from Adobe Analytics include:

  • Category Growth — Online spending was driven by categories including Toys (5.4 times more online sales when compared to pre-season levels in September 2021), Video Games (4.5x more), Gift Cards (3.6x more), and Books (3.0x more). Other categories of note included Groceries (2.7x more, driven by holiday meals), Jewelry (2.2x more), Electronics (2.2x more), Baby/Toddler(2.1x more), and Appliances (2x more).
  • Top Sellers (Full Season) — Top gaming consoles include Nintendo Switch OLED, PlayStation 5 and Xbox Series S/X. Top games include Call of Duty Vanguard, Battlefield 2042, Far Cry 6, FIFA 22, and Halo Infinite. Top toys included Baby Yoda products, Bluey products, Crystalina dolls, Gabby’s Dollhouse, and Got2Glow Fairy Finder. Top Electronics and other devices include AirPods/AirPods Max, Drones, Record Players, Samsung TVs, and LG TVs. Other top sellers included air fryers, Instapot, smart mugs, smart water bottles, and weighted blankets.
  • Buy Now Pay Later — BNPL saw double-digit growth this holiday season, as consumers continued to try this emerging payment method. Revenue was up 27 percent YoY while orders were up 10 percent YoY. On average, consumers spent $224 using BNPL (per order), with roughly three items in the shopping cart. Growth slowed, however signaling challenges for gaining mass adoption. When indexed to 2019, revenue was up 475 percent and orders were up 479 percent over two years.
  • Curbside Pickup — For retailers who offered curbside/in-store pickup, the fulfillment option was used in 23 percent of online orders. Despite the lack of growth (24 percent in 2020 and 22 percent in 2019), demand for curbside pickup remained strong. Consumers likely valued the convenience and speed or found it to be a safe fulfillment option, during COVID-19 surges. The day before Christmas Eve (December 23), usage peaked at 40 percent. On average, curbside orders amounted to $91 and roughly two items per shopping cart.
  • Mobile — Over the holiday season, 43 percent of online sales were generated from smartphones, coming in at $88 billion, a modest increase from 2020 (at 40 percent), as consumers relyed on desktop and laptop computers as their primary way to shop online. There were six days where over 50 percent of sales came from smartphones: 11/25 (Thanksgiving), 12/18 (Super Saturday), 12/19, 12/24 (Christmas Eve), 12/25 (Christmas Day), and 12/26. In 2020, only Christmas Day exceeded 50 percent.