$221 billion adds up to a record online holiday season

The holiday season just past shattered all records for ecommerce with online sales growing almost 5% over 2022.

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Consumers spent $220.1 billion online during the recent holiday season, up $10.4 billion on the previous year, a growth of almost 5%. That’s an all-time record, as measured by Adobe Analytics (based on over one trillion visits to U.S. retail sites). Buy Now Pay Later transactions also broke records. Another driver was major discounting by retailers.

For the first time, mobile shopping nosed ahead of desktop, driving just over 50% of sales.

Why we care. That recession never happened, at least not in 2023. Consumers may have struggled with gas prices, the cost of some food items and (as always) the cost of housing over the course of the year, but come holiday time those purse strings were loosened.

At least that’s one possible takeaway. It’s also worth considering (although Adobe’s data doesn’t address it) that part of the increase was driven by traditional offline transactions now being conducted online. And it’s not a distant step to speculate that the experience of mandatory online purchases during the lockdown might be a driver there (groceries accounted for over $19 billion of the spend).

Dig deeper: Consumers look to use AI for holiday shopping

Breaking down the discounts. Electronics rang the bell for discounts peaking at over 30% of list price. Toys and apparel were not far behind. As much as 65% of the record holiday spending was driven by those three categories, plus furniture and groceries.

The fruitful channels. Paid search was again the biggest driver of sales for retailers (29.4% of online sales). That was followed by web traffic (19.3%), affiliate and partner sales (16.6%), organic search (15.9%), and email (15.3%).

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About the author

Kim Davis
Kim Davis is currently editor at large at MarTech. Born in London, but a New Yorker for almost three decades, Kim started covering enterprise software ten years ago. His experience encompasses SaaS for the enterprise, digital- ad data-driven urban planning, and applications of SaaS, digital technology, and data in the marketing space. He first wrote about marketing technology as editor of Haymarket’s The Hub, a dedicated marketing tech website, which subsequently became a channel on the established direct marketing brand DMN. Kim joined DMN proper in 2016, as a senior editor, becoming Executive Editor, then Editor-in-Chief a position he held until January 2020. Shortly thereafter he joined Third Door Media as Editorial Director at MarTech.

Kim was Associate Editor at a New York Times hyper-local news site, The Local: East Village, and has previously worked as an editor of an academic publication, and as a music journalist. He has written hundreds of New York restaurant reviews for a personal blog, and has been an occasional guest contributor to Eater.

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