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Inflation Plays Role

Cyber Days Continue Strong Gains; Consumers Lured by Steep Discounts

In a retail year that has been difficult to predict, Cyber shopping days through Sunday were higher than expected despite stubborn inflation and rising interest rates. Smartphones drove over half of online sales (52%) for the first time, said a Monday Adobe Analytics report.

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After record online spending for Black Friday, Cyber Monday was poised to break online shopping records at $11.2 billion-$11.6 billion, setting it up to be the biggest online shopping day ever, said Adobe Analytics Monday. Consumers spent $10.7 billion on Cyber Monday 2021, it said. Despite the rise in mobile shopping over the weekend, many people returned to work Monday, using laptops, "the preferred device for shopping online," it said.

Black Friday sales topped expectations at $9.1 billion, a 2.3% increase and an online spending record for the day. Electronics deals were a major growth driver, with category online sales up 221% over the average day in October, Adobe said. Smart home and audio gear sold particularly well, it said.

Mastercard, which measures in-store and online retail sales, reported a combined 12% year-on-year bump in spending on Black Friday, 14% for e-commerce sales. Analyst Steve Sadove cited promotions as key to strong growth, highlighting apparel, electronics and restaurants as strong sectors. Electronics sales were up 4% year on year vs. apparel at 19%, said the report.

Cyber Monday was expected to have the highest discounts on computers (27% off retail price), electronics (25% off), TVs (15%) and toys (33%), Adobe said. Appliance discounts are expected to peak at 18% on average Tuesday, it said.

Over the weekend, consumers spent $4.6 billion, 2.6% more, on Saturday than the prior year; Sunday sales were 6.1% higher at $4.7 billion, Adobe said. After a “surprising” Sunday, where consumers “latched onto early deals,” momentum was expected to carry over to Monday due to record discounts, said Adobe analyst Vivek Pandya.

Thanksgiving was the only day of the Cyber Five that Adobe had projected to decline, by a point, but online sales were 2.9% higher year on year at $5.29 billion. Adobe expects the five Cyber Week days, ending Monday, to generate $34.8 billion online, up 2.8% from last year and to have 16.3% share of the November-December holiday shopping season.

Cyber days spending has been driven by net-new demand, not just higher prices, Adobe said. Its Digital Price Index tracks online prices in 18 categories; numbers aren’t adjusted for inflation, but they would have shown growth in underlying consumer demand if online inflation were factored in, it said.

Top electronics sellers for the weekend were Apple iPads and MacBooks, digital cameras, Roku devices, drones, Nintendo Switch, Xbox Series X and PlayStation 5, Adobe said. More items are being financed through buy now, pay later programs, it said: BNPL orders rose 68% and revenue increased 72% vs. the prior week, it said.

For the season, eMarketer's Insider Intelligence expects consumer spending to remain strong this holiday season with 7% growth, bringing the total November-December spend to $1.3 trillion. Though that would be the third consecutive year of upper-single-digit gains, "much of this year’s increase will stem from inflation," it said.