Online shoppers purchased early this season as they sought to nab popular items in a year of supply chain-driven merchandise shortages, but they still had plenty left in their wallets on Cyber Monday.
Online sales at U.S. retailers yesterday totaled $10.69 billion, down just a smidge from a record $10.84 billion on Cyber Monday 2020, when many physical stores remained closed or restricted entry due to the pandemic. Despite the slight drop compared to last year, Cyber Monday was the biggest online shopping day of the year, Adobe says.
What’s more, Cyber Monday sales were 13.8% higher than on the Monday after Thanksgiving 2019, the last year before the pandemic.
For the five days from Thanksgiving through Cyber Monday this year, U.S. online retailers sold $33.9 billion worth of goods, down 1.4% from last year, according to the Adobe Analytics unit of ecommerce and digital marketing software vendor Adobe Systems Inc. The only one of the five days that saw an increase in online shopping over last year was Thanksgiving, when sales ticked up 0.5%, Adobe says.
The decline in Cyber Five sales, Adobe says, reflects consumers buying earlier this year, aware that many retailers were short of merchandise due to factory closures in Asia and snarled ports. For the period Nov. 1-29, online retail sales were up 11.9% year over year to $109.8 billion, with 22 days exceeding $3 billion in web sales versus nine days last year, Adobe says. Adobe had earlier reported that U.S. online retail sales increased 8% in October versus the same month last year.
“With early deals in October, consumers were not waiting around for discounts on big shopping days like Cyber Monday and Black Friday,” says Taylor Schreiner, director, Adobe Digital Insights. “This was further fueled by growing awareness of supply chain challenges and product availability. It spread out e-commerce spending across the months of October and November, putting us on track for a season that still will break online shopping records.”
In its initial holiday-season forecast issued in late October, Adobe had projected $11.3 billion in Cyber Monday sales, but revised that to a range of $10.4 billion to $11.1 billion in recent days as it became clear that online shopping would be spread more evenly over several days this holiday season. Adobe predicts retail web sales for the entire holiday season will grow 10% year over year to $207 billion.
Digital Commerce 360 had projected online sales would grow 5.0% year over year on Cyber Monday to $11.38 billion and grow 5.9% to $36.40 billion for the Cyber Five.
One indication that many consumers finished shopping before Cyber Monday comes from the National Retail Federation, which says 7% fewer shoppers visited online retail sites yesterday than on Cyber Monday last year.
Salesforce reports higher online holiday sales
While Adobe estimated lower online sales over the Thanksgiving period, Salesforce Inc. says web sales grew.
Cyber Monday online sales in the U.S. were up 3% to $11.3 billion on Cyber Monday and ahead 4% to $62 billion from last Tuesday through yesterday, a period Salesforce calls Cyber Week.
On one point, Salesforce and Adobe agree: Online sales were especially strong early in November. U.S. consumers spent $136 billion online from Nov. 2-29, an increase of 9% over the same period last year, according to Salesforce, a provider of ecommerce and marketing software.
“Cyber Week set a new record for online sales again this year even with demand smoothing out as the month went on,” says Rob Garf, vice president and general manager of retail at Salesforce. “Despite a rush on early holiday shopping due to concerns over product availability and rising prices, Cyber Monday still saw moderate growth in digital sales. In fact, one out of every three people in the U.S. purchased online on Cyber Monday.”
Adobe bases its estimates on an analysis of 1 trillion transactions on U.S. retail sites since 2016. Salesforce says it analyzes more than 1 billion transactions across its ecommerce and digital marketing software, including from 24 of the top 30 U.S. online retailers.
MasterCard also reported strong sales early in the month, with e-retail revenue increasing by nearly 10% year over year. Compared to the pre-pandemic month of November 2019, MasterCard says online sales are up 11.7% in the U.S. and total retail sales ahead 6.9%, a sign that shopping is strong both on websites and physical stores. MasterCard said online sales were up 8.7% yesterday as of 3 p.m. Eastern time but did not offer an estimate for all of Cyber Monday.
Consumers find fewer online discounts and more out-of-stock messages
Both Adobe and Salesforce noted that discounts were lower on Cyber Monday this year than last year, and that more products were in short supply because of this year’s pandemic-related supply chain disruptions.
Here are some key points from their Cyber Monday reports:
- Out-of-stock messages were up 8% on Cyber Monday compared to a week earlier, and up 169% compared to January 2020, before the coronavirus outbreak hitting the U.S., Adobe says. Salesforce says U.S. online retailers had 6% fewer products on offer over the Cyber Week period, whereas last year their catalogs grew 5% as many stores remained closed because of COVID-19.
- Salesforce says the average discount offered online in the U.S. over Cyber Week was 26%, down 8% from last year. Adobe says discounts were 12% lower for electronics this year than on Cyber Monday last year, 13% lower on TVs, 8% lower for appliances and sporting goods, and 18% lower on apparel. Adobe predicts discounts will start to fall to the range of 5-10% starting today as shipping costs rise.
- The average ticket was higher. Adobe says the average order value on Cyber Monday was 13.9% than last year and is up 19% for the season. Adobe says that could reflect consumers going online to buy more higher-ticket items, such as furniture, as well as inflation. Salesforce says the average ticket was up 11% for Cyber Week.
- Curbside and in-store pickup of online orders remains popular. Adobe says shoppers selected curbside pick up for 18% of orders from retailers that offered it on their websites on Cyber Monday, not far below the 20% figure last year when the pandemic kept many consumers out of stores. According to Salesforce, U.S. stores offering curbside or in-store pickup grew their revenue by 50% more on Black Friday this year over last year than retailers not offering these pickup options.
- Buy now, pay later makes gains. Salesforce says buy now, pay later grew 29% year over year and was used on 8% of orders worth $22 billion over Cyber Week. Adobe says the deferred payment option was used on 1% more orders on Cyber Monday this year than last but accounted for 21% more revenue. Adobe says it does not expect another increase in buy now, pay later until closer to Christmas.
Magento, which is owned by Adobe, is the ecommerce platform provider for 102 of the retailers in the 2021 Digital Commerce 360 Top 1000, an annual ranking of North America’s leading retailers by online sales, and Salesforce for 63.