Cyber Monday set to be biggest spending day of year

Updated. E-commerce is up overall for the month of November.

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Updated November 30, 2021 at 12:38pm.

Adobe reports that $10.7 billion was spent online this Cyber Monday. Although this makes it the biggest ecommerce day of the year, it’s down 1.4% year-over-year. In 2020, $10.8 billion was spent during the same day.

The Black Friday numbers indicate a slight headwind from last year. Black Friday and Thanksgiving Day were down and even, respectively, this year. With Black Friday, ecommerce spending came in at $8.9 billion, down from $9 billion in 2020. Turkey Day was at the same level this year as last year, at $5.1 billion.

According to the Adobe data, consumers are spending earlier online this year. In the period between Nov 1 and Nov 28, consumers spent $99.1 billion, up 13.6 billion year-over-year.

Why we care. There is a lot of news about supply chain delays, and consumers are paying attention. They’re spending earlier, and the efforts, in terms of discounts and other promotions, have paid off for marketers in this year’s lead-up to big holiday spending.

The larger trend in ecommerce that we’ve seen is that single-day events tend to get dragged out into multi-day bonanzas. They also get earlier, as retailers attempt to get a head start on the competition. Therefore, some earlier sales took the wind out of Black Friday. And Cyber Monday is morphing into Cyber Week. Ecommerce revenue is up overall, so some of these tactics regarding timing appear to be working.

Cyber Month? “With 21 days in November driving over $3 billion in spend, what we know as Cyber Week is starting to look more like Cyber Month,” said Taylor Schreiner, director at Adobe Digital Insights. For reference, last November, only 8 days topped $3 billion by November 28, 2020.

Supply chain issues, labor shortages, new consumer behaviors and even a Google core update the week before Thanksgiving — many variables could be affecting how retailers performed this Cyber Week. Because of these factors, businesses may fall short of their Cyber Week goals. However, Adobe still expects the full season (November 1 to December 31) to reach $207 billion (10% YoY growth). With that in mind, it may be better to assess sales over a longer period, perhaps beginning at the start of November, to get a clearer picture of how your campaigns and promotions did this holiday season. This may also enable better YoY comparisons since customers seem to be shopping much earlier this year.

Top sellers. For Monday, Adobe found that toys, electronics, video games and TVs were the top sellers. Hot Wheels, Baby Alive, Legos and NERF were among the top toys. In electronics, Apple Watches, AirPods, Nintendo Switch and Xbox Series S were among the top sellers, as were HP, Lenovo and Dell laptops, and Samsung and Sony TVs. (Earlier in the day, Roku streaming sticks were also trending, and for advertisers, this could be another indication that streaming continues to surge.) But shoppers will have to be flexible with in-demand items. This past weekend (Nov. 27 and 28), out-of-stock messages were up 16% compared with the preceding weekend.

Curbside pickup still high, BNPL slowing. Also this past weekend, curbside pickup rose 33% over pre-pandemic levels and was used 18% overall in online orders for retailers who offered that service. Last year, curbside pickup was even more prevalent, in 25% of all orders. This upward movement last weekend shows that many consumers still want to choose the safest option available to purchase store inventory.

If they’re cautious about safety, consumers appear to be more confident about their finances. Revenue from the Buy Now Pay Later (BNPL) option is down 10% YoY, with total orders down 23% YoY. According to Adobe, BNPL revenue was up 21% YoY for Cyber Monday, but they don’t expect another surge until closer to Christmas.

Higher prices, fewer discounts. According to Salesforce’s survey, Cyber Monday brought in a slightly higher figure than Adobe’s: $11.3 billion. They also found a trend similar to the Adobe study: online shoppers are paying higher prices than previous years. It’s a combination of fewer discounts and inflation. Salesforce found that the Average Selling Price (ASP) was up 11% in the U.S. compared with last year, and up 5% globally. The average discount was down 26% from last year in the U.S., and down 24% globally.

Search Engine Land Editor George Nguyen contributed to the reporting of this article.

Dig deeper: Supply chain crisis impacts holiday shopping.

About the author

Chris Wood
Chris Wood draws on over 15 years of reporting experience as a B2B editor and journalist. At DMN, he served as associate editor, offering original analysis on the evolving marketing tech landscape. He has interviewed leaders in tech and policy, from Canva CEO Melanie Perkins, to former Cisco CEO John Chambers, and Vivek Kundra, appointed by Barack Obama as the country's first federal CIO. He is especially interested in how new technologies, including voice and blockchain, are disrupting the marketing world as we know it. In 2019, he moderated a panel on "innovation theater" at Fintech Inn, in Vilnius. In addition to his marketing-focused reporting in industry trades like Robotics Trends, Modern Brewery Age and AdNation News, Wood has also written for KIRKUS, and contributes fiction, criticism and poetry to several leading book blogs. He studied English at Fairfield University, and was born in Springfield, Massachusetts. He lives in New York.

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