Web-only home furnishings giant Wayfair reports sale decreased 3.1% in 2021 and it reported a net loss for the year. Coming out of the pandemic-induced home furnishings boom, consumer demand for home goods is normalizing.

After 2020’s home-furnishings boom, Wayfair Inc. reported its online sales decreased 11.4% year over year in Q4 and decreased 3.1% year over year for all of 2021.

But compared with 2019, 2021’s sales are still up more than 50%. Wayfair is No. 7 in the 2021 Digital Commerce 360 Top 1000.

CEO Niraj Shah said consumer demand for home goods is normalizing after the pandemic surge, according to a SeekingAlpha transcript.

“When you talk about customers sort of reverting to pre-pandemic behavior and we think of it as a pendulum,” Shah said. “Beginning of COVID, it swung very, very strongly to online. And on our way out of COVID, it’s swinging the other way. We think it’s now coming back toward the middle.”

Repeat customers placed 76.3% of Wayfair’s orders in Q4. Plus, 63% of Wayfair.com orders in 2021 were from shoppers who have made three or more purchases with Wayfair in their lifetime.

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But Wayfair’s active customers have decreased 12.5% year over year to 27.3 million shoppers in 2021. Active customers are shoppers who have made a purchase within the last 12 months.

Still, Wayfair’s ecommerce site and app collectively tallied 4 billion visits in 2021. So many shoppers will still engage with Wayfair, even if they don’t make a purchase, Shah said. For shoppers who do make a purchase, on average they visit Wayfair 10 or more times and browse 30 or more products for each purchase. This demonstrates their high engagement, Wayfair reported. Shoppers added 8 million reviews to its site in 2021.

Wayfair says prices increase from inflation are ‘digestible’

Overall, average order values have increased, although order frequency has decreased. This is likely due to inflation, chief financial officer Michael Fleisher said. January 2022 marks the 20th consecutive month of online price increases according to the Adobe Digital Price Index. In the home and garden category, online prices increased 1.54% year over year in January 2022, according to Adobe.

Because of inflation, Wayfair has increased its prices to compensate for supplier increases. For shoppers, the price increases have been “digestible,” Shah said.

“What has happened so far is inflation has been acute enough, the magnitude’s large enough, that suppliers have passed it on to us. And we in turn have passed it on to customers. You would expect inflation of that magnitude to dent demand to some degree,” Shah said. “To be honest, we have not seen that happen. Conversion has held up.

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“The only thing we can come up with is, like in America, for example, if you look at it, folks have $2 trillion more in their savings accounts now than they did pre-pandemic. So that sheer amount of money, we believe, is causing this amount of inflation to be digestible.”

For its Q4 2021, ended Dec. 31, Wayfair reported:

  • Total net revenue of $3.25 billion, an 11.4% decrease from $3.67 billion in Q4 2020
  • U.S. net revenue of $2.74 billion, an 8.8% decrease from $3.00 billion
  • A net loss of $202 million compared with $24.0 million in profit
  • Average order value of $269 compared with $223

For the full year, Wayfair reported:

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  • Total net revenue of $13.71 billion, a 3.1% year-over-year decrease from $14.15 billion in 2020
  • U.S. net revenue of $11.25 billion, a 5.5% year-over-year decrease $11.90 billion
  • A net loss of $131 million compared with a profit of $185 million

Percentage changes may not align exactly with dollar figures due to rounding.

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