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Adobe: Online holiday spending hits record-breaking $222 billion

holiday spending
Mobile played a key role in strong online holiday sales.

Healthy Cyber Week activity and strong buy now, pay later (BNPL) usage helped drive holiday e-commerce spending to new heights.

Consumers spent $222.1 billion online from Nov. 1 to Dec. 31, up 4.9% year-over-year (YoY) and setting a new record for holiday e-commerce, according to the latest Adobe Analytics figures. The total includes $123.5 billion was spent online in the month of November (up 6% YoY), bolstered by a strong Cyber Week—the five days between Thanksgiving and Cyber Monday—which drove $38 billion in spend online (up 7.8% YoY).

In December 2023, Adobe data shows that consumers spent a total of $98.6 billion online (up 3.7% YoY), driven in part by discounts that lingered past Cyber Monday. 

BNPL proves popular

Adobe data reveals that during the 2023 holiday season, BNPL usage hit an all-time high, contributing $16.6 billion in online spend, up 14% YoY and representing $2.1 billion more than the previous holiday season. 

November 2023 was the biggest month on record for BNPL ($9.2 billion, up 17.5% YoY), and Cyber Monday was the biggest day on record ($940 million, up 42.5% YoY). BNPL saw strong traction throughout the as well. According to Adobe, from Jan. 1 to Dec. 31, 2023, BNPL drove $75 billion in online spend, up 14.3% YoY and $9.4 billion more than full year 2022.  

Discounts draw interest

Across major e-commerce categories, Adobe data shows that discounts hit record highs this holiday season. These include electronics, where discounts peaked at 31% off listed price (vs 25% in 2022), as well as toys at 28% (vs 34%) and apparel at 24% (vs. 19%). Discounts were also strong across other categories including computers at 24% (vs. 20%), televisions at 23% (vs. 17%), appliances at 18% (vs. 16%), sporting goods at 18% (vs. 10%) and furniture at 21% (vs. 8%).   

"In an uncertain demand environment, retailers leaned on discounting and flexible payment methods to entice shoppers this holiday season,” said Vivek Pandya, lead analyst, Adobe Digital Insights. “The strategy was effective, driving record spend online during big days like Cyber Monday and Black Friday, and a record 11 days that surpassed $4 billion in daily spend this season.” 

 Additional Adobe Analytics insights   

  • Mobile shopping overtook desktop: This holiday season, mobile hit a new milestone with 51.1% of online sales coming through smartphones (up from 47% in 2022). Mobile shopping was highest on Christmas Day (Dec. 25) driving 63% of online sales (61% in 2022).
  • Curbside pickup remains popular: The curbside pickup fulfillment method was used in 18.4% of online orders during the 2023 holiday season for retailers that offer the service (vs. 21% in 2022). Curbside pickup peaked from Dec. 22 to Dec. 23 (right before Christmas Eve), driving 36.8% of online orders. 
  • Inflation not a major factor: Strong consumer spending during the holiday season was driven by net-new demand, as opposed to higher prices, according to Adobe. The Adobe Digital Price Index, which tracks online prices across 18 product categories shows that e-commerce prices have fallen for over a year now (down 5.3% YoY in Dec. 2023). Adobe’s numbers are not adjusted for inflation, but if online inflation were factored in, there would have been higher growth in topline consumer spend.    

Adobe analyzes direct consumer transactions online. 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. Adobe Analytics is part of Adobe Experience Cloud, which over 85% of the top 100 internet retailers in the U.S. use to deliver, measure and personalize shopping experiences online.

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