Holiday online sales were weaker than expected but still jumped nearly 9% to a record $204.5 billion, according to a report Wednesday from Adobe Analytics.
Adobe analytics had predicted $207 billion. Bloomberg News noted that online holiday shopping in 2021 grew at the slowest rate since at least 2014.
Online consumer spending was $855 billion for all of 2021. Online prices increased 3.1% year-over-year in December when compared to December 2020 and rose 0.8% month-over-month.
Adobe analyzes this data by looking at 1 trillion visits to retailer websites. It cited online inflation, which rose by 7% in 2021, as a contributing factor to the record numbers.
“Inflation online is showing no signs of easing, as durable consumer demand is being met with the same, persistent supply challenges that produced over six billion out-of-stock messages online this holiday season,” said Patrick Brown, Vice President of growth marketing and insights at Adobe.
Brown added that “as consumers contend with higher offline prices for everything from gas to rent, they are finding that e-commerce is still a less expensive option.”
Online sales have been increasing for decades as a more convenient choice. Sales in 2021 notably occurred outside of big events like Black Friday and Cyber Monday and were not deterred by supply chain hiccups and challenges.
“This holiday shopping season was the first time where big promotional moments like Cyber Monday and Black Friday took on less of the spotlight,” said Taylor Schreiner, a senior director at Adobe Digital Insights.
The most recent holiday season also saw double-digit growth in “buy now, pay later” options.
Specifically, consumers flocked to toys, video games, gift cards, books, groceries (for holiday dinners), jewelry, electronics, baby/toddler products, and appliances.
Adobe Analytics also found that the use of curbside pickups was 23% for all online orders during the holiday season. Smartphone sales made up 43% of online sales, though 40% of consumers still relied on computers as their primary way of shopping online.