Expectations for this year’s holiday spend online were lukewarm, but initial activity — driven by deep discounts — has bucked predictions. Cyber Monday pulled in $11.3 billion in sales online according to figures from 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 was recorded in sales, a drop on 2020’s $10.8 billion), and sets a record both for the day and the year so far.
The day is typically the biggest of the long weekend — in part because sales continue but people have returned to work — and it rounds out five days that overall exceeded estimates. As we reported, Thanksgiving saw $5.29 billion in sales and Black Friday had $9.12 billion in sales — both also up on earlier forecasts. The weekend between had $9.55 billion in sales. Altogether, “Cyber Week” — the period including those holidays and the days back at work as people continue to shop online — will reach $35.27 billion in sales online, up 4% over last year and accounting for 16.7% of all sales in the months of November and December.
Adobe expects $210 billion in sales for the two months, and so far in the season mobile has accounted for 44% of sales.
Salesforce separately released its own preliminary figures of $6 billion for Cyber Monday in the evening Monday. We’ll update these as we get more complete results.
Notably, although inflation is definitely being felt in the U.S., Adobe said that these figures were based on more transactions overall. At the peak, people were spending $12.8 million per minute on Monday, and Adobe said that its digital price index, which tracks prices across 18 categories, said that prices have been nearly flat in recent months.
Deep discounts — retailers perhaps anticipating needing to have something more to lure shoppers — have played a big role, too, as have the sheer availability of goods after shortages of the years before.
“With oversupply and a softening consumer spending environment, retailers made the right call this season to drive demand through heavy discounting,” said Vivek Pandya, lead analyst, Adobe Digital Insights, in a statement. “It spurred online spending to levels that were higher than expected, and reinforced e-commerce as a major channel to drive 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 one trillion visits to U.S. retail sites, covering 100 million SKUs, and 18 product categories.
A lot of the buying was being done in preparation for the holidays, and that’s reflected in most popular categories. Top products included games, gaming 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% boost in sales versus a day in October.
In other trends, buy-now-pay-later transactions (BNPL) continued to be a force in how purchases are being made, although they appeared to be down slightly 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 when totals are higher. Overall Cyber Week BNPL orders were up 85% over last week, with revenues up 88%.
Mobile also continues to account for a big proportion of buying, although Cyber Monday’s 43% of all online sales when people are back at their desks was definitely down from the 55% of purchases on Thanksgiving.
The big question now will be whether online retailers, and shoppers, sustain this activity or whether this was an outsized push around discounts that will settle down in the days and weeks to come. Layoffs that we’ve been seeing in the e-commerce sector, and depressed valuations for companies in the space, are two indicators of more challenging times to come.