Fears about consumers curbing their holiday gift spending in 2022 proved largely unfounded. According to Adobe, American shoppers shelled out a record-breaking $211.7 billion for online purchases between November 1 and December 31, a 2.5% increase from 2021. However, some of the increase is attributable to higher prices due to inflation.
Total U.S. holiday spend — in-store and ecommerce — rose by 5.3%, not adjusted for inflation, to $936.3 billion during November and December, according to the National Retail Federation. The trade group had forecast an increase of 6% to 8% over 2021 or $942.6 to $960.4 billion.
Salesforce reported that online sales in November and December were flat globally at $1.14 trillion, caused mainly by weak spending in Europe and Australia.
Mastercard Spending Pulse reported that for November 1 through December 24, 2022, U.S. in-store sales grew 6.8% over 2021, while ecommerce sales increased 10.6%. Ecommerce comprised 21.6% of total retail sales for the 2022 holiday season, up from 20.9% in 2021. Globally, sneakers were a top performer, with sales growing 31% from 2021, followed by general footwear increasing 15%.
According to Adobe, 47% of online sales were transacted via smartphones during the 2022 holiday season, up 4% from 2021. Christmas Day set a new mobile record, comprising 61% of online sales — up from 58% last year. Similarly, during Cyber Week, 51% of sales came through smartphones, 5% more than last year.
However, desktop shopping had a better conversion rate than mobile, and desktop purchases had more items per order.
Salesforce data shows the average discount for the three weeks after 2022 Cyber Week was higher than last year when there was inventory scarcity and high demand. In contrast, certain categories in 2022 had an inventory glut that merchants needed to move. Merchants’ discounts (from list prices) peaked during Cyber Week at 27% globally and 30% in the U.S.
Data from the Adobe Digital Price Index, which tracks ecommerce prices across 18 categories, shows that average monthly online prices have decreased year-over-year since September 2022.
According to Adobe, toy discounts in the fall of 2022 peaked at 34% off the list price compared to 19% in 2021.
Discounting had the desired effect of increasing sales, especially from price-sensitive consumers. Vivek Pandya, lead analyst at Digital Insights at Adobe, said, “At a time when consumers were dealing with elevated prices in areas such as food, gas, and rent, holiday discounts were strong enough to sustain discretionary spending through the entire season. The big deals drew in consumers and drove volume, helping retailers challenged with oversupply issues, particularly in categories such as apparel, electronics, and toys.”
Product returns from online 2022 holiday sales surged, with Salesforce estimating that 1.4 billion global orders during the holiday season were returned, a 63% increase over 2021. Returns spiked during the six days after Christmas. Sixteen percent of all returns arrived that week.
Other Adobe Findings
- U.S. buy now, pay later orders during the 2022 holidays rose 4% compared to 2021. Revenue, however, decreased by 2%.
- Paid search drove 29% of U.S. online sales, the biggest driver this 2022 holiday season. Direct website visits took 19%, with organic search contributing 17%. Email accounted for 15%.