Shoppers spent a record $211.7 billion online from Nov. 1 to Dec. 31 — a 3.5% year-over-year increase — even as crowds returned to physical stores, according to data from Adobe Analytics.
Ecommerce spending topped $3 billion a day on 38 occasions during the 2022 holiday season. Only 25 days topped $3 billion in digital sales during the 2021 season.
Adobe had reported earlier that online shopping during Cyber 5 — the period from Thanksgiving to Cyber Monday — grew 4% year over year to $35.27 billion.
Discounts attracted online shoppers
Across major ecommerce categories, discounts hit record highs this holiday season. Discounts in toys peaked at 34% off listed price (versus 19% in 2021), as well as electronics at 25% (vs. 8%), according to a statement from Adobe Inc. Discounts were also strong across other categories including:
- Computers at 20% (vs. 10%)
- Apparel at 19% (vs. 13%)
- Televisions at 17% (vs. 11%)
- Appliances at 16% (vs. 4%)
- Sporting goods at 10% (vs. 6%)
- Furniture at 8% (vs. 2%)
“At a time when consumers were dealing with elevated prices in areas such as food, gas, and rent, holiday discounts were strong enough to sustain discretionary spending through the entire season,” said Vivek Pandya, lead analyst at Adobe Digital Insights, in a written statement. “The big deals drew in consumers and drove volume, helping retailers who were challenged with oversupply issues, particularly in categories such as apparel, electronics, and toys.”
Inflation’s impact on ecommerce
Strong consumer spending online has been driven by net-new demand, and not simply higher prices. The Adobe Digital Price Index (DPI), which tracks ecommerce prices across 18 categories, shows prices online have been falling year over year since September 2022. Adobe figures are not adjusted for inflation, but if online inflation were factored in, there would still be growth in underlying consumer demand.
Toys drove online holiday sales
Online sales of toys jumped 206% compared to pre-season levels in October 2022. Top-selling toys this holiday season included Legos, Hot Wheels, Paw Patrol, LOL Surprise, Squishmallows, Bluey and Cocomelon.
Other categories with substantial jumps in online sales during the holiday period included video games (up 115%) and apparel/accessories (up 94%).
Subcategories that saw strong demand in online holiday shopping:
- Watches (up 108%)
- Baby toys (up 101%)
- Gift cards (up 98%)
- Cosmetics (up 90%)
- Outdoor grills (up 86%)
- Speakers (up 76%)
- Smart home products (up 67%)
- Mobile shopping: This holiday season, 47% of online sales came through smartphones (up from 43% in 2021). Christmas Day (Dec. 25) set a new mobile record, driving the majority of online sales at 61% (up from 58%).
- Buy now, pay later (BNPL): In the holiday season overall, BNPL orders rose 4% when compared with 2021. However, revenue decreased 2%, indicating shoppers are increasingly using BNPL for smaller shopping carts.
- Curbside pickup: The fulfillment method was used in 21% of online orders this holiday season (for retailers that offer the service), down slightly from 23% in the year prior. From Dec. 22 to Dec. 23 (right before Christmas Eve), curbside pickup peaked at 42% of online orders, with anxious shoppers using the service to get gifts in time.
- Marketing channels: Paid search remained the biggest driver of sales for retailers this holiday season (29% of online sales attributable to that channel). Direct web visits (19%), organic search (17%), affiliates/partners (16%), and email (15%) were also major contributors. Revenue directly attributable to social media remained at less than 3% of total sales this season, but that share has grown 24% YoY.
Adobe’s analysis covers more than 1 trillion visits to U.S. retail websites, 100 million SKUs, and 18 product categories. Adobe Analytics is part of Adobe Experience Cloud, which is used by more than 85% of the top 100 internet retailers in the U.S. listed in the Digital Commerce 360 Top 500 Report.
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