Holiday 2021 shopping is accelerating rapidly as U.S. consumers shop earlier than ever for holiday gifts and spend more on toys, groceries, video games and gift cards, according to Adobe Analytics, which reported on Tuesday that $72.4 billion was spent online in October, an 8 percent increase from October 2020.
Toys were up 50 percent in October versus September 2021; groceries rose 34 percent; sales of video games rose 20 percent, and gift cards were up 20 percent, Adobe reported.
They also noted that from January 2021 to October 2021, $680 billion has been spent online, a 9 percent increase from 2020 and a 57 percent gain over 2019.
Adobe Analytics covers more than 1 trillion visits to U.S. retail sites and more than 100 million stock keeping units in 18 product categories.
Consumers have been motivated to shop for holiday gifts this year for several reasons. Retailers started their holiday campaigns earlier than ever this year and triggered Black Friday deals weeks before the actual Friday after Thanksgiving. Also, shoppers are aware of supply shortages that will only get worse over time and are seeing prices getting higher. But many are flush with cash due to higher wages and government subsidies.
Out-of-stock messages rose “a whopping” 250 percent in October 2021 compared to pre-pandemic January 2020 and a “staggering” 325 percent compared to October 2019, Adobe reported. In October 2021 alone, consumers saw more than 2 billion out-of-stock messages online. Of the 18 categories tracked by Adobe, electronics has the highest out-of-stock levels currently, followed by jewelry, apparel, home and garden, and pet products.
“With over 2 billion out-of-stock messages last month, consumers are beginning to understand the real impact of the supply chain challenges,” said Taylor Schreiner, director of Adobe Digital Insights. “Some have begun to adjust their holiday strategy accordingly, with parents shopping for toys earlier and some settling for gift cards this season. For those who have not yet started their holiday shopping, they will need to be prepared to be flexible.”
As reported last month, Adobe expects U.S. holiday 2021 sales online to hit a record $207 billion, a 10 percent increase from 2020 and strong growth after a year where the pandemic accelerated e-commerce.
The National Retail Federation predicts total 2021 holiday sales will grow between 8.5 and 10.5 percent over 2020 to between $843.4 billion and $859 billion, while online and other non-store sales, which are included in the total, will increase between 11 and 15 percent to a total of between $218.3 billion and $226.2 billion.
Despite earlier deals this season, discounts are weaker across several categories, as retailers sell more goods at full price amid lower inventories.
Adobe also listed what’s selling best in certain categories during this extended holiday shopping season.
Top toys so far include Pop Fidget toys, Got2Glow Fairy Finder and Bluey toys. Top electronics and devices include Oculus Quest 2, soundbars, Samsung and TCL televisions, PlayStation 5, Nintendo Switch, Xbox Series S, air fryers, Roku Streaming Sticks, Fire TV Sticks, HP Laptops, Chromebooks and Dell Notebooks.
Usage of buy now, pay later services dipped last October, with revenue down 14 percent and orders down 15 percent from a year ago, though Adobe expects BNPL to pick up further into the season when consumers begin to make larger purchases.
Curbside pickup last month was used in 18.4 percent of all online orders, on par with October 2020 levels, and 6 percent higher compared to Oct 2019, Adobe indicated. Use of expedited shipping grew 5.6 percent last month. Adobe expects both fulfillment options to pick up in coming weeks as consumers begin to worry more about shipping delays.