The Cyber Monday star shined a little dimmer this year.
Online sales tallied $10.7 billion in the U.S. on Monday — marking both the biggest digital shopping day of the year so far and a decline of 1.4 percent from a year ago, according to Adobe. Apparel discounts were slightly smaller than a year ago, with prices down 18 percent compared with a 20 percent price drop for Cyber Monday in 2020.
Inflationary trends in general and the impact of bigger-ticket item purchases, such as furniture, pushed the final price point on shopping carts up 13.9 percent at checkout on Cyber Monday, Adobe said. (That continues a running trend that has seen e-commerce checkout tallies rise for 17 consecutive months).
Sales for the five-day stretch starting with Thanksgiving Day also slipped 1.4 percent, to $33.9 billion.
Although the declines are somewhat jarring given more than a decade of solid and substantial e-commerce growth, it’s not that e-commerce is waning so much as the timing is shifting. Through Monday, November online sales were up 11.9 percent to $109.8 billion, with a record 22 days topping $3 billion.
“With early deals in October, consumers were not waiting around for discounts on big shopping days like Cyber Monday and Black Friday,” said 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.”
Adobe is projecting that growth will moderate somewhat for the rest of the season with total combined sales for November and December rising 10 percent to $207 billion.
There were additional signs of supply chain strain in the system as well, with Adobe pointing to an 8 percent increase in out-of-stock messages compared with the week of Nov. 22.
November out-of-stocks were up 258 percent compared with November 2019.
The supply chain disruptions have been driven by a confluence of factors — from strong consumer demand during the pandemic to aging infrastructure to backups at ports, a lack of truck drivers, container shortages in Asia and more.
It’s a dynamic officials are taking a closer look at.
The Federal Trade Commission launched an inquiry this week into the supply chain disruptions, ordering Walmart, Amazon, Procter & Gamble and others to provide data under Section 6(b) of the FTC Act, which lets the commission “conduct wide-ranging studies that do not have a specific law enforcement purpose.”
Lina Khan, chair of the FTC, said: “Supply chain disruptions are upending the provision and delivery of a wide array of goods, ranging from computer chips and medicines to meat and lumber. I am hopeful the FTC’s new 6(b) study will shed light on market conditions and business practices that may have worsened these disruptions or led to asymmetric effects. The FTC has a long history of pursuing market studies to deepen our understanding of economic conditions and business conduct, and we should continue to make nimble and timely use of these information-gathering tools and authorities.”
As part of the study, the FTC will be looking at whether the supply chain troubles “are leading to specific bottlenecks, shortages, anticompetitive practices, or contributing to rising consumer prices.”
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