Just Another Cyber Monday: $11.3 Billion Sets Record

Cyber Monday cart illustration feature

As did Black Friday, Cyber Monday set a record of $11.3 billion in online spending, according to Adobe Analytics, up 5.8% from the first-ever down year of 2021, once again driven by heavy discounting from retailers to spur demand in an inflationary period.

During the peak hour of 8 a.m. to 9 a.m. PST, consumers were spending at a clip of $12.8 million every minute, Adobe reported.

Over the entire Cyber weekend (Thursday-Monday), U.S. shoppers spent $35.27 billion online, Adobe reported, up nearly 5% from last year. For its part, Amazon said that the five-day weekend was its largest to date, without providing figures, saying it sold “hundreds of millions of products,” with home, apparel, toys, beauty and its own devices leading the pack.

According to a survey conducted by Prosper Insights & Analytics for the National Retail Federation, total shoppers in stores and online over Cyber Weekend hit 196.7 million, up 17 million from last year and the highest figure since tracking began in 2017. This eclipsed NRF’s forecast of 166 million; the previous peak was 189.6 million in 2019. And there’s hope for the balance of the season, as a survey found Americans have done about half their shopping thus far, NRF president Matthew Shay told reporters Tuesday.

Consumers spent an average of $325.44 on holiday-related purchases, NRF reported, up from $301.27 in 2021, with $229.21 directed toward gifts. More than three-quarters of consumers surveyed (76%) said they shopped over the weekend, up from 70% in 2021.

Interestingly, Adobe reported the largest ecommerce sales gain on Sunday, up 6.1% to $4.96 billion. Thanksgiving Day and Saturday also saw healthy gains, up 2.9% to $5.29 billion and up 2.6% to $4.59 billion, respectively.

Toys was the leading category on Cyber Monday, according to Adobe, up 684% compared to an average day in October, followed by sporting goods (up 466%), appliances (up 458%), books (up 439%), jewelry (up 410%), electronics (up 391%) and computers (up 372%).

“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 for Adobe Digital Insights in a release. “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.”

As an indicator of the heavy discounting this peak holiday season, Adobe’s Digital Price Index, which tracks ecommerce prices across 18 categories (not adjusted for inflation), showed they have been nearly flat in recent months, down 0.7% in October.

MCM Musings: The weekend sales figures are surely encouraging for retailers, as inflation continues to run hot; the latest 12-month figure for October was 7.7%, per the Department of Labor. Despite numerous reports of sagging consumer sentiment ahead of the holidays, shoppers opened up their wallets with gusto for the Cyber Five. Increasingly, however, they’re leveraging themselves to do so: Adobe reported buy now pay later (BNPL) orders rose 85% and revenue increased 88% during Cyber Weekend, compared to the prior week. Even before the holiday blitz, retail spending (including food) had been ticking up, with the U.S. Census Bureau reporting a 1.3% gain in October to $694.5 billion. The hopeful revenue figures are coming at a cost, however, with analysts concerned about a retail margin squeeze when Q4 is reckoned, given all the heavy discounting.