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How Holiday Shopping Is Shaping Up: Discounts Down, Stockouts Up

Holiday shopping
Holiday shopping is shaping up

Adobe is out with a report on how holiday shopping is shaping up based on actual online transactions. What’s most striking is the increase in stockouts this year, but probably not surprising to most people given the attention the news media has given to supply chain issues (problems getting inventory into the hands of retailers and merchants).

Adobe found that in October 2021, consumers saw over 2 billion out-of-stock messages online, which is up 325% compared to October 2019, which was pre-pandemic.

Of the 18 categories tracked by Adobe, electronics has the highest out-of-stock levels currently, followed by jewelry, apparel, home & garden, and pet products.

Adobe Digital Insights Director Taylor Schreiner said consumers are beginning to understand the real impact of supply chain challenges. “Some have begun to adjust their holiday strategy accordingly, with parents shopping for toys earlier and some settling for gift cards this season. For those who have not yet started their holiday shopping, they will need to be prepared to be flexible.”

And despite earlier deals this season, discounts are weaker across several categories, including electronics, where discount levels are at 8.7 percent, compared to 13.2 percent at this point last year; and Sporting Goods at 2.8 percent (vs 11.2 percent).

However, Tools/Home improvement are seeing no discounts at all, with prices up 1.2 percent, compared to a 6.8 percent discount last year.

And Toys are currently seeing bigger discounts than 2020 at 15.9 percent (vs 7.5 percent). (Adobe looked at Nov 6 prices relative to Oct 1, for the 2021 and 2020 discount levels.)

The data was provided as part of the Adobe Digital Economy Index. Based on Adobe Analytics data, the analysis covers over one trillion visits to U.S. retail sites, 100 million SKUs, and 18 product categories.

Additional insights about how holiday shopping is shaping up include the following:

  • Top Products: Top toys so far include Pop Fidget toys, Got2Glow Fairy Finder, and Bluey toys; Top electronics and devices include Oculus Quest 2, soundbars, Samsung & TCL televisions, PlayStation 5, Nintendo Switch, Xbox Series S, air fryers, Roku Streaming Sticks, Fire TV Sticks, HP Laptops, Chromebooks, and Dell Notebooks.
  • Buy Now Pay Later (BNPL): Usage of BNPL services dipped in Oct 2021, with revenue down 14% YoY and orders down 15% YoY. Adobe expects BNPL to pick up further into the season, when consumers begin to make larger purchases.
  • Fulfillment: In Oct 2021, curbside pickup was used in 18.4% of all online orders (for retailers who offer the service). This is on par with Oct 2020 levels (6% higher compared to Oct 2019 levels). Use of expedited shipping grew 5.6% YoY last month. Adobe expects both fulfillment options to pick up in coming weeks, as consumers begin to worry about shipping delays.
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Ina Steiner
Ina Steiner
Ina Steiner is co-founder and Editor of EcommerceBytes and has been reporting on ecommerce since 1999. She's a widely cited authority on marketplace selling and is author of "Turn eBay Data Into Dollars" (McGraw-Hill 2006). Her blog was featured in the book, "Blogging Heroes" (Wiley 2008). She is a member of the Online News Association (Sep 2005 - present) and Investigative Reporters and Editors (Mar 2006 - present). Follow her on Twitter at @ecommercebytes and send news tips to ina@ecommercebytes.com. See disclosure at EcommerceBytes.com/disclosure/.