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Earlier Spending, Out-of-Stocks Curb Cyber Monday Sales

Cyber Monday ain’t what it used to be.

The earlier-than-usual spending this holiday season has taken its toll on the biggest online shopping day of the year.

According to Adobe, Cyber Monday generated $10.7 billion in e-commerce revenue for U.S. retailers, down 1.4 percent from last year’s $10.8 billion total—a dip of approximately $100 million. Salesforce had a more positive calculation, with Cyber Monday sales coming in at 3 percent growth to $11.3 billion compared to 2020.

The results came in after Black Friday already showed tepid sales. Adobe said the day’s sales dipped nearly $100 million from $9 billion to $8.9 billion, while Salesforce once again had a more bullish estimate at up 5 percent to $13.4 billion. Adobe projected that Cyber Monday sales would fall within $10.2 billion and $11.3 billion, and late Monday night narrowed the expectation down to between $10.4 billion and $11.1 billion.

As of 9 p.m. ET on Monday, consumers had spent $7.1 billion throughout the shopping day, equivalent to $6.5 million spent every minute. In the peak hour of 11 p.m. to 12 a.m. ET, consumer spend skyrocketed to $12 million every minute with help from the West Coast.

Combined, Thanksgiving Day through Cyber Monday drove a total of $33.9 billion in online spend, down 1.4 percent year over year, as Black Friday dipped 1.3 percent from last year. Thanksgiving Day stayed flat at $5.1 billion.

“With early deals in October, consumers were not waiting around for discounts on big shopping days like Cyber Monday and Black Friday,” said Taylor Schreiner, director, Adobe Digital Insights, in a statement. “This was further fueled by growing awareness of supply chain challenges and product availability. It spread out e-commerce spending across the months of October and November, putting us on track for a season that still will break online shopping records.”

The analysis was based on Adobe Analytics data, covering more than 1 trillion visits to U.S. retail sites, 100 million SKUs and 18 product categories, which the firm claims is more than any other technology company or research organization.

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Salesforce’s optimism extended throughout the week, with the CRM giant saying that U.S. digital sales rose 4 percent to $61 billion, a new all-time high. To generate its holiday results, the company analyzed global shopping data from more than 1 billion consumers on its Commerce Cloud and Marketing Cloud platforms, used by 24 of the top 30 U.S. online retailers.

Current supply chain bottlenecks likely contributed to the early shopping shift, but have also been the catalysts to one of retail’s current problem areas: inventory. On Cyber Monday, the prevalence of out-of-stock messages was up 8 percent compared to the week before (on Nov. 22).

Through November, the prevalence of out-of-stock messages is up 169 percent compared to pre-pandemic levels from January 2020, and up 258 percent versus November 2019. Adobe expects the out-of-stocks to persist through the rest of December.

Salesforce backed up the out-of-stock data, indicating that the number of products being sold from last Tuesday through Cyber Monday shrank 6 percent, both in the U.S. and globally, compared to last year. This is a big turnaround from 2020, when product catalogues grew 5 percent in the U.S. and 1 percent globally when many non-essential retail stores were still shuttered due to pandemic lockdowns.

“Despite a rush on early holiday shopping due to concerns over product availability and rising prices, Cyber Monday still saw moderate growth in digital sales. In fact, one out of every three people in the U.S. purchased online on Cyber Monday,” said Rob Garf, vice president and general manager of Retail at Salesforce, in a statement.

So far, from Nov. 1 through Cyber Monday, consumers in the U.S. have spent $109.8 billion online, which is up 11.9 percent year over year, Adobe said. And on 22 of those days, consumers purchased more than $3 billion worth of goods, another new milestone. In 2020, only nine days topped $3 billion at this point.

Salesforce tagged the U.S. consumer spending since Nov. 2 at $136 billion, up 9 percent year over year. Global consumers have spent $593 billion, an increase of 3 percent, online since the start of the holiday season.

Both tech firms agreed that there has been a major impact from inflation, both on overall spending and the rolling back of discounts. Adobe said consumers saw the final price point of their shopping carts jump 13.9 percent on Cyber Monday, and up 19 percent in the season overall.

Over the full Tuesday-to-Cyber Monday “Cyber Week,” the average selling price in the U.S. was up 11 percent, and 5 percent globally compared to last year, Salesforce said.

Meanwhile, the average discount over Cyber Week was 26 percent in the U.S. and 24 percent globally, both totals down 8 percent from the year-ago period.

On Cyber Monday, discount levels for electronics averaged 12 percent, compared to the 27 percent markdowns last year, according to Adobe. Apparel markdowns came in at 18 percent on average, which compares well with the 20 percent discounts in 2020. Sporting goods however, saw a big change from a year ago, with markdowns coming in at 8 percent, well short of the 20 percent discounts on average last year.

Adobe expects that starting Tuesday, discounts will generally begin to fade into the 5 percent to 10 percent range as shipping costs continue to rise.