Analysts and e-commerce leaders have forecast a muted online holiday shopping season this year, with sales in the first three weeks of November broadly stable compared to a year ago due to a weaker economy, inflation and more people returning to shop again in the wake of the Covid-19 pandemic. But looking at Thanksgiving, the first big holiday shopping day, the numbers seem to be coming in stronger than expected. Adobe Analytics released data indicating that $5.29 billion was spent online on Thanksgiving Thursday. That’s up 2.9% from a year ago, and ahead of the $5.1 billion Adobe initially said it expected for the day.
Mobile devices continue to play an increasing role in how people shop. Approximately 55% of online sales occurred on mobile devices yesterday, up 8.3% from a year ago.
“Mobile shopping has struggled to grow for many years as consumers have found the experience lacking compared to desktop,” said Vivek Pandya, lead analyst, Adobe Digital Insights, in a statement. “This year’s Thanksgiving has become a game changer where smartphones have driven real growth and underscores how much these experiences have improved.”
Salesforce has more positive data: It notes from its calculations, based on 1.5 billion shoppers, that looking worldwide, online sales grew 1% on Thanksgiving to $31 billion, while in the U.S. in particular, they increased 9% to $7.5 billion. Salesforce also said that 78% of its sales traffic came from mobile devices. Average order values, he said, were $105 globally and $120 for US sales.
They might have different figures and metrics, but both are seeing growth, so the bigger question might actually be whether the surge in activity seen over Thanksgiving will be sustained through the rest of Cyber Week, which includes Black Friday, Cyber Monday and today’s Cyber Monday the weekend in between – and indeed the rest of the days and weeks leading up to the new year. Overall, Adobe predicted Cyber Week will generate $34.8 billion in online spending this year, up 2.8% from a year ago, when the week generated $33.9 billion in sales. dollars.
Cyber Week 2021 was actually down 1.4% from 2020, so this represents a turnaround.
As a point of comparison on these numbers, the National Retail Federation forecasts holiday sales growth of 6% to 8%, while another analyst group, Digital Commerce 360, forecasts 6.1% growth for the period. .
Be that as it may, sales may not be fully sustained or even in the next few days. Adobe has predicted that today’s Black Friday sales will reach $9 billion, up just 1% from 2021 figures.
Adobe says it analyzes about 1 trillion visits to retail sites in the United States, tracking sales for approximately 100 million SKUs and 18 product categories. His analysis will include anonymous data from some of his customers: he says it is used by about 85% of the largest online retailers in the US He said that an estimated $77.74 billion has been spent online so far since November 1.
The holiday shopping season is an important time to watch for a couple of reasons. First, it’s traditionally the most profitable selling period for a retailer, which can make or break the whole year. (This is why Amazon’s recent earnings, in which it provided reduced selling guidance and warned of lower-than-expected holiday spending, sent its stock tumbling nearly 20%.)
Because of this enormous importance, collectively, ecommerce holiday data can serve as a point of reference for the ecommerce market as a whole.
But if growth is what we’re after, there are some indicators of stormy waters ahead. Adobe found that the first three weeks of November had flat online sales of $64.59 billion, up just 0.1% from 2021.
The form of “Christmas shopping” has changed tremendously with the rise of e-commerce. Online shopping has extended the days and hours people shopped: The day after Thanksgiving, Black Friday, marked the “first day” of the holiday shopping season, but it went out the window years ago with sales starting on Thursday and people using their day off work to click. Now, both major and smaller retailers are leaning on the ever-earlier start of holiday shopping as a way to try to boost sales in a smaller market. And they’re offering more ways to pay: buy now-pay later is up 1.3% in terms of sales and 0.7% in terms of orders (indicating that more is being used for larger ticketed items) .
This in a context in which physical retailers are becoming increasingly aggressive in capturing their audience. The National Retail Federation in the US said it expects 166.3 million consumers to shop over the long weekend.
“Although there is much speculation about the impact of inflation on consumer behavior, our data tells us that this Thanksgiving holiday weekend will see heavy store traffic with record numbers of shoppers taking advantage of the affordable prices,” he said. NRF President and CEO Matthew Shay said in a statement. “We are optimistic that retail sales will remain strong in the coming weeks and retailers are ready to meet consumers however they want to shop with great products at the prices they want to pay.”
Adobe notes that today the biggest discounts it sees online are in categories like toys (up to 34% off list price), electronics (27%) and computers (18%). Squishmallows, Roblox, Paw Patrol, Hot Wheels, Cocomelon and LOL Surprise Dolls are all selling well.
We will post further sales data updates as they arrive.
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