Home Adobe: Holiday Online Sales Will Gain Amid Challenges
October 21, 2021
Adobe: Holiday Online Sales Will Gain Amid Challenges

By Mike Duff

Contributing Editor

Adobe announced that it expects online holiday sales to reach $207 billion and digital sales for 2021 to eclipse $4 billion, but the road through the end of the year may prove bumpy.

The holiday online sales figure represents a 10% increase from 2020 for the period from November 1 to December 31, according to Adobe’s annual holiday online sales forecast.  Globally, Adobe anticipates online spending to hit $910 billion this season, up 11% year over year.

Adobe expects global online spending for all of 2021 to reach $4.1 trillion, a new milestone for e-commerce.

The company noted that, as e-commerce becomes more common, the major holiday shopping days are losing prominence. It expects Cyber Week, Thanksgiving through Cyber Monday, to drive $36 billion in online spending in the U.S., or 17% of the entire holiday season spend. The growth rate is slowing, however, coming in at just up 5% year over year for the five-day period. Adobe expects Cyber Monday to drive $11.3 billion, up 4% year over year, and remain the biggest e-commerce day of the season and year. Black Friday is expected to combine at $9.5 billion, up 5% year over year, and Thanksgiving at $5.4 billion, up 6% year over year. Adobe pointed out that it expects all three major shopping days to gain less than the season overall.

At the same time, supply-chain woes will affect the holiday season. Compared to the pre-pandemic period, the prevalence of out-of-stock messages has risen 172% going into the current holiday season, Adobe maintained, adding that it expects the level to remain high and increase for certain products throughout the season. Of the 18 categories tracked by Adobe, apparel has the highest out-of-stock levels currently, followed by sporting goods, baby products and electronics.

The sputtering supply chain also is driving up prices online. Adobe anticipates U.S. consumers will pay 9% more on average during Cyber Week this year compared to the 2020 holiday season. Smaller discounts, on top of e-commerce inflation that has persisted through the year, will account for the higher payouts. Adobe forecasts discounts will be in the 5% to 25% range across categories this season versus the historical average of 10% to 30%. Adobe expects smaller discounts in all major gifting categories, with percentages down in the low to middle single digits on average year over year.

The supply chain impact is happening as pricing levels have gained due to inflation in e-commerce. The online inflation has been ongoing since June 2020, with online prices up 3.3% going into the holiday season, according to Adobe. In past years, online prices were down 5% year over year on average going into the shopping season. Still, e-commerce prices have not risen as quickly as offline prices, with the September Consumer Price Index up 5.4% from the 2020 month.

In an Adobe survey of over 1,000 U.S. consumers, 67% of respondents stated they are concerned about gifts being more expensive this year. Although modest seasonal discounts are starting already, as retailers look to manage supply chain challenges, Adobe expects the biggest discounts, at 5% to 25% range, to come in around Thanksgiving and Cyber Monday. By category, Adobe expects the biggest discounts to occur on Thanksgiving for toys; Black Friday for furniture/bedding and tools/home improvement; Saturday for electronics and appliances; Sunday for apparel and sporting goods; Cyber Monday for televisions; and the following Wednesday for computers.


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