Expectations for this year’s online holiday spending were lukewarm, but the initial activity – driven by big discounts – has beaten forecasts. According to figures from Cyber Monday, online took in $11.3 billion Adobe Analytics, which tracks seasonal e-commerce activity. This is 5.8% more than consumers spent on the same day last year (when $10.7 billion in sales were recorded, down from $10.8 billion in 2020), and sets a record so far for both the day as the year.
The day wraps up a long weekend that generally beat estimates. As we reported, Thanksgiving saw $5.29 billion in sales and Black Friday had $9.12 billion in sales — both also higher than previous forecasts. The weekend in between had sales of $9.55 billion. All told, “Cyber Week” — the period including those holidays and the days people are back to work if people continue to shop online — will reach $35.27 billion in online sales, up 4% from last year and accounting for 16.7% of all sales in the months of November and December.
Adobe expects $210 billion in revenue for the two months, and mobile has accounted for 44% of revenue so far in the season.
Salesforce separately released its own $6 billion preliminary figures for Cyber Monday on Monday night. We will update these as we get more complete results.
Notably, while inflation is certainly being felt in the US, Adobe said these numbers were based on more transactions overall. At its peak, people were spending $12.8 million a minute on Monday, and Adobe’s Digital Price Index, which tracks prices across 18 categories, said prices were nearly flat in recent months.
Deep discounts – retailers who may be anticipating a little more to entice customers – have also played a big role, as has the massive availability of goods following shortages of years before.
“With oversupply and declining consumer spending, retailers have made the right decision this season to boost demand through deep discounts,” Vivek Pandya, principal analyst at Adobe Digital Insights, said in a statement. “It drove online spending to levels above expectations, and strengthened e-commerce as a key channel to increase volume and capture consumer interest.”
Discounts on electronics were as strong as 25% off (they were 8% in the same period last year), and the biggest sales were in toys with average discounts of 34%.
Adobe says it calculates its data based on a trillion visits to US retail sites, with 100 million SKUs and 18 product categories.
Many of the purchases were made in preparation for the holiday season, and this is reflected in the most popular categories. Top products included games, game consoles, Legos, Hatchimals, Disney Encanto, Pokémon cards, Bluey, Dyson products, strollers, Apple Watches, drones and digital cameras, it said. Toys as a category saw a 452% increase in sales from a day in October.
In other trends, buy-now-pay-later (BNPL) transactions remained a dominant factor in how purchases are made, although they appeared to be slightly lower on Monday compared to Black Friday and the weekend: part of the reason has to do with shopping cart sizes, Adobe said: People are more likely to use BNPL if the totals are higher. Overall Cyber Week BNPL orders were up 85% over last week, with sales up 88%.
Mobile also continues to account for a large share of purchases, although the 43% of all online sales on Cyber Monday when people returned to their desks was clearly lower than the 55% of purchases on Thanksgiving.
The big question now will be whether online retailers and shoppers will continue this activity or if this was an excessive push-around of discounts that will settle down in the days and weeks to come. Layoffs we’ve seen in the e-commerce sector, and low valuations for companies in the space, are two indicators of more challenging times ahead.