Adobe: U.S. consumers spent a record $204 billion online this holiday season

Graphic art of consumers on a red background.

Adobe today released the final online shopping figures for the holiday season (Nov. 1 to Dec. 31). As part of the Adobe Digital Economy Index, Adobe provides a comprehensive view into U.S. e-commerce by analyzing direct consumer transactions online. Based on Adobe Analytics data, the analysis covers over one trillion visits to U.S. retail sites, 100 million SKUs, and 18 product categories — more than any other technology company or research organization.

Consumers spent a total of $204.5 billion over the 2021 holiday season, up 8.6 percent year-over-year (YoY). A record 38 days surpassed $3 billion in daily spend (25 days in 2020 by comparison), as consumers spread out their shopping outside of big days like Cyber Monday and began earlier — The weeks before Thanksgiving (Nov. 1 to Nov. 24) grew 19.2 percent YoY, while Cyber Week (5 days between Thanksgiving and Cyber Monday) was down 1.4 percent YoY. The weeks following (Nov. 30 to Dec. 31) grew 5.6 percent YoY.

Graph of Online spend by year.

Demand for online shopping was not deterred by persistent supply chain challenges, as retailers contend with congested ports, cargo delays, and disruptions in overseas manufacturing. During the holiday season, consumers saw over 6 billion out-of-stock messages online. This represents a 253 percent increase over the 2019 holiday season (prior to the pandemic) and a 10 percent increase YoY.

“This holiday shopping season was the first time where big promotional moments like Cyber Monday and Black Friday took on less of the spotlight,” said Taylor Schreiner, senior director, Adobe Digital Insights. “Like we saw during the Covid-19 pandemic, e-commerce has become a ubiquitous daily activity and a flexible way for shoppers to navigate product availability and higher prices.”

Discounts for the full season were weaker across major categories tracked by Adobe: In electronics, discount levels were at –8 percent compared to –21 percent in 2020 — Computers at –10 percent (vs –22 percent in 2020) — Appliances at –4 percent (vs –14 percent) — Sporting Goods at –6 percent (vs –14 percent) — Furniture/Bedding at –2 percent (vs –4 percent). Discount levels for televisions were unchanged YoY (-11 percent). Consumers did see bigger discounts in apparel (-13 percent vs –11 percent) and toys (-19 percent vs –14 percent).

Additional insights from Adobe Analytics include:

Methodology: The Adobe Digital Economy Index offers the most comprehensive set of insights of its kind, based on analysis through Adobe Analytics that covers over one trillion visits to U.S. retail sites and over 100 million SKUs in 18 product categories — more than any other technology company or research organization.