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Adobe: Toys, Cyber Week, discounts helped drive record online holiday sales

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Holiday e-commerce sales broke records in 2022.

Consumers spent enough online during the 2022 holiday season to set a new record for e-commerce.

Online holiday sales from Nov. 1 to Dec. 31 totaled $211.7 billion, growing 3.5% year-over-year and reaching a new all-time high, according to Adobe Analytics. Cyber Week (the five days between Thanksgiving and Cyber Monday) was a key contributor, driving $35.3 billion in online spend and growing 4% year-over-year.

However, Adobe analysis also indicates that demand for toys was a major driver of online holiday sales, with online sales growing 206% compared to pre-season levels in October 2022. Other categories with substantial e-commerce sales increases from pre-season levels included video games (up 115%) and apparel/accessories (up 94%).

Sub-categories that saw strong online holiday sales growth from October 2022 included watches (up 108%), baby toys (up 101%), gift cards (up 98%), cosmetics (up 90%), outdoor grills (up 86%), speakers (up 76%), and smart home products (up 67%). 


Adobe also reports that substantial online discounting drew in holiday shoppers. season. E-commerce categories that saw significant year-over-year increases in average discount rate included toys (34% off listed price vs. 19% during the 2021 holiday season), as well as electronics (25% vs. 8%), computers (20% vs. 10%), apparel (19% vs. 13%), televisions (17% vs. 11%), appliances (16% vs. 4%), sporting goods at (10% vs. 6%), and furniture (8% vs. 2%).  

According to Adobe data, 38 days surpassed $3 billion in daily spend during the 2022 holiday season, on par with the previous year. For comparison, only 25 days in the 2020 holiday season surpassed $3 billion in online sales. 

Figures are not adjusted for inflation, but if online inflation were factored in, Adobe says there would still be growth in underlying consumer demand. 

Additional Adobe Analytics holiday e-commerce insights:

  • Close to half (47%) of online holiday sales came through smartphones (up from 43% in 2021). Christmas Day (Dec. 25) set a new mobile record, driving the majority of online sales at 61% (up from 58%).
  • During the holiday season, Buy Now Pay Later (BNPL) orders rose 4% when compared to 2021. Revenue decreased by 2%, indicating that shoppers are increasingly using BNPL for smaller orders.  
  • One in five (21%) online holiday orders were fulfilled via curbside pickup (from retailers that offer curbside), down slightly from 23% in 2021. From Dec. 22 to Dec. 23 (right before Christmas Eve), curbside pickup peaked at 42% of online orders.
  • Across major marketing channels, paid search remained the biggest driver of digital holiday sales (29% of online sales attributable to that channel). Direct web visits (19%), organic search (17%), affiliates/partners (16%), and email (15%) were also major contributors. Revenue directly attributable to social media remained at less than 3% of total sales this season, but that share grew 24% YoY.

“At a time when consumers were dealing with elevated prices in areas such as food, gas, and rent, holiday discounts were strong enough to sustain discretionary spending through the entire season,” said Vivek Pandya, lead analyst, Adobe Digital Insights. “The big deals drew in consumers and drove volume, helping retailers who were challenged with oversupply issues, particularly in categories such as apparel, electronics, and toys.”  

Adobe analyzes over one trillion visits to U.S. retail sites, 100 million SKUs, and 18 product categories. Adobe Analytics is part of Adobe Experience Cloud.

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