Holiday Ecommerce Spending Up 8.6%, Adobe Says

Despite massive out of stock levels due to supply chain and inventory issues, U.S. holiday ecommerce spending hit a record $204.5 billion over the 2021 holidays, up 8.6%, according to Adobe’s Digital Economy Index, with 38 days where over $3 billion exchanged hands, vs. 25 such days in 2020.

By comparison, MasterCard’s Spending Pulse report tagged holiday ecommerce growth in the U.S. at 11%, with overall sales gaining 8.3%.

In line with reporting on earlier deals and promotions, including Amazon’s launch of Black Friday specials in early October, the period from Nov. 1-24 saw spending increase 19.2%, while Cyber Weekend (Thanksgiving through Cyber Monday) was down 1.4%, Adobe reported, and the period from there to the end of the year was up 5.6%.

Out-of-stocks saw massive growth as chronic port congestion, container shortages and other freight/transit issues plagued retail, with more than 6 million messages during the holiday season, an increase of 253% over the 2019 season, and up 10% from 2020.

“This holiday shopping season was the first time where big promotional moments like Cyber Monday and Black Friday took on less of the spotlight,” said Taylor Schreiner, senior director of Adobe Digital Insights in a release. “Like we saw during the Covid-19 pandemic, ecommerce has become a ubiquitous daily activity and a flexible way for shoppers to navigate product availability and higher prices.”

Online sales using the increasingly popular buy now pay later (BNPL) option – especially among Generation Z and millennials – were up 27%, while orders were up 10% vs. 2020, according to Adobe. The average BNPL order was $224, for three items per cart. Compared to 2019, BNPL revenue was up 475% and orders increased 479%, indicating adoption has slowed.

Also peaking was curbside pickup, which was used in 23% of ecommerce orders over the holidays, Adobe reported, roughly flat with the past two years (24% in 2020 and 22% in 2019). Curbside usage peaked on Dec. 23 at 40% of online orders.

Ditto for mobile commerce via smartphones, used in 43% of online sales during the 2021 holidays, vs. 40% of sales in 2020. There were six days when over 50% of ecommerce sales came via smartphones between Thanksgiving and Dec. 26.