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Salesforce: Online sales tick up in December

Online sales
U.S. consumers are shopping online throughout the holiday season.

U.S. online shoppers maintained Cyber Week momentum into the middle of the holiday season.

According to new analysis from Salesforce, U.S. online sales grew 8% year-over-year (YoY) across the three weeks following Cyber Week 2022, with $97 billion in holiday orders placed. Since Nov. 1, Salesforce data indicates that U.S. digital sales are up 5% YoY, reaching $245 billion, while global sales are flat at $1.03 trillion.

[Read more: Salesforce: Cyber Week online spending jumps 9% to $68 billion]

However, not all holiday e-commerce trends are positive. Returns nearly doubled the week after Cyber Week compared to the previous year, according to Salesforce, and have remained high since that time. Salesforce now predicts over 1.4 billion orders purchased during the 2022 holiday season (13% of all holiday orders) will be returned – up 57% YoY.

Salesforce data shows that nearly one out of every five online orders placed globally this holiday season has been via buy online and pick up in-store (BOPIS). BOPIS usage peaked at 20.2% of orders during Cyber Week before dipping to 19% in the following two weeks.

BOPIS usage picked up again after the ground shipping cutoff over the weekend before Christmas (Dec. 17-18). On Friday, Dec. 16, BOPIS orders surged to 23% of total order volume and continued to grow over the weekend, peaking at 25% of all orders on Saturday. These are the highest rates of BOPIS observed by Salesforce during the entire holiday season.

Salesforce now predicts BOPIS usage will surge the week before Christmas. With the ground shipping window closed, companies that offer BOPIS will grow 40-50% higher than those without this fulfillment option in the final days leading up to Christmas. 

Other key holiday insights (Nov. 29–Dec. 19):

  • Salesforce data indicates the average discount rate for the three weeks after Cyber Week remains higher than the prior year, when there was inventory scarcity and high demand. The average U.S. discount rate stands at 19%, with the global discount rate at 18%, an increase of 6% globally and in the U.S. YoY. Discounts surged two weeks after Cyber Week, rising 11% globally YoY and 14% in the U.S. as retailers looked to attract last-minute shoppers ahead of the shipping cutoff window.
  • After hitting all-time highs during Cyber Week, social traffic referring to retailers’ sites grew 23% YoY over the first three weeks of December globally, representing 12% of all mobile traffic. The U.S. is leading this trend observed by Salesforce, with social traffic growing 28% YoY over the first three weeks of December. 

“After a surprisingly strong Cyber Week in the U.S., retailers are continuing to offer attractive online discounts in the final few weeks of the holiday to clear balance sheets and shelf space,” said Rob Garf, VP and GM of Retail, Salesforce.

“Retailers must now turn their attention to extending the online shopping window with creative store fulfillment and preparing for the imminent returns tsunami to drive both loyalty and profitability during the season’s homestretch.”

Salesforce analyzed shopping data across commerce, marketing, and service from over 1.5 billion people shopping on retail sites (including 24 of the top 30 U.S. online retailers) using Salesforce Customer 360.

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