Salesforce: Inflation pushes online revenue up even as consumers shopped less

Dan Berthiaume
Senior Editor, Technology
Dan Berthiaume profile picture
U.S. consumers made fewer online purchases in February 2022 as prices rose.

February 2021 saw U.S. consumers less willing to shop online.

U.S. consumers placed fewer orders and purchased fewer items during February 2022 than during the same month the previous year, according to shopping data from consumers using Salesforce Commerce Cloud,

As inflation drove higher prices, however, U.S. retailers saw online revenue grow 6% year-over-year (YoY). On the other hand, global online revenue saw a 5% YoY decrease in the same timeframe. Salesforce says retailers and consumers are both faced with higher prices as labor, inventory issues, and last-mile costs drive up the cost of goods.

Specific online sales data points uncovered by Salesforce for February 2022 include:

  • February online order volume was down 11% YoY, and the items per order decreased by 1.3% YoY (3.79 items, compared to 3.84 items in 2021).
  • Prices for consumers in the U.S. rose 11.2% YoY in February while globally prices increased by 4.4% YoY.
  • Product inventory in February shrank by -1% in the U.S. and -5% globally, as retailers and consumers continued to grapple with supply chain issues.

[Read more: Study: 98% of retailers having supply chain issues; will last beyond 2022]

Product categories with the highest price growth in February YoY include: 

    • Home, Furniture (21.8%).
    • Home, Appliances (17.9%).
    • Home, Dining, Art & Decor (11%).

Product categories with the least price growth in February YoY include: 

    • Active Footwear (1.3%)
    • General Footwear (.8%)
    • Electronics and Accessories (.5%)

eMarketer: E-commerce sales growth to continue all year
U.S. e-commerce sales will exceed $1 trillion for the first time in 2022, totaling $1.065 trillion and accounting for 15.9% of total retail sales, according to a forecast by eMarketer’s Insider Intelligence. eMarketer also predicts that average spend per digital buyer will grow at an 11.6% compound annual growth rate between 2022 and 2025 to reach nearly $7,000. This compares to an anticipated 1.9% CAGR for the number of total digital buyers

In 2021, e-commerce totaled $919.06 billion and made up 14.2% of total sales, according to eMarketer data. In addition, rising time spent on mobile devices is expected to trickle into shopping, with mobile customers representing more than four in 10 e-commerce dollars fr the first time. The biggest beneficiary will be smartphones, which are expected to make up 85% of mobile commerce sales this year.

“Challenges that consumers experienced over the holidays, including inflation and low inventory, haven’t dissipated in the new year,” said Rob Garf, VP and GM of retail, Salesforce. “While digital commerce continues to prevail, it’s clear that inflation is having an impact on overall consumer spending. With these persistent headwinds, retailers must remove friction and enhance experiences by knitting together offline and online shopping.”

The Salesforce Shopping Index analyzes the activity of more than 1 billion shoppers across more than 54 countries who use Salesforce Commerce Cloud. Several factors are subsequently applied to extrapolate projections and actuals for the broader retail industry.