U.S. online sales will exceed $1 trillion in 2022 – WWD

Americans in 2022 will spend $1 trillion online for the first time, compared to $885 billion spent online in 2021, according to software giant Adobe.

Adobe officials believe the online spending habits formed before and during the pandemic are persisting despite declining COVID-19 cases in the United States and some traffic returning to stores in recent months.

“A lot of consumer behaviors and choices over the past two years are things that they will tend to stick with,” Taylor Schreiner, senior director of Adobe Digital Insights, told WWD. “We will see persistent and steady growth in e-commerce.

“Before the pandemic, there were growth rates of 11 to 15%. In 2020 we saw a huge 40% jump, and on top of that a 9% jump last year,” Schreiner said. “[For 2022,] the average estimate is 13% growth online, which is back to pre-pandemic rates, and that’s on a much higher basis.

Over the two years of the pandemic — March 2020 to February 2022 — American consumers spent $1.7 trillion online, or $609 billion more than 2018 to 2019 combined.

But brick-and-mortar retail is showing signs of life, which would naturally reduce some online spending, although it is still well below 2019 levels.

According to Springboard, which tracks foot traffic in stores and malls, February traffic in downtown stores was 34.9% lower than February 2019, an improvement from January 2022, when traffic was down. decreased by 42.3% compared to January 2019. It was a 20.9% month-over-month. gain, the biggest increase since March 2021, according to Springboard.

“Downtowns also clearly benefited from Presidents Day in the last week of the month, with traffic on Sunday February 20 strengthening so significantly that it was 3.5% higher in 2019. , while on Presidents Day itself, foot traffic remained a third lower, down 29.5% from 2019,” said Diane Wehrle, director of marketing and information at Springboard, in her downtown shopper traffic report.

Wehrle cited the influence of hybrid work-from-home/office situations on store traffic on weekdays versus weekends. She said weekday traffic last February was down 39.4% from February 2019 and weekend traffic was down 18.7% last February from the same month in 2019.

Whether shopping online or in-store, consumers are seriously concerned about rising inflation.

Adobe reported that online inflation, first observed in June 2020, has persisted for 21 consecutive months. The impact was most notable in 2021, where $22 billion in e-commerce growth was driven by higher prices, compared to just $4.7 billion in 2020.

In the first two months of 2022, e-commerce growth of $3.8 billion was due to rising prices. Inflation hasn’t deterred demand, however, at least not yet, according to Adobe, with the same two months seeing a 13.8% increase in online spending to $138 billion. In 2022, Adobe expects consumers to pay up to $27 billion more online for the same amount of goods due to inflation.

When asked if inflation was different online compared to stores, Schreiner replied, “It depends on the category. Grocery products move in perfect harmony,” but in general online prices are about 4% lower, more or less, with final prices largely determined by price comparisons that retailers and consumers can assess quickly and easily online.

The categories that generated the most online volume last year were electronics, apparel and groceries.

Clothing sales appear to be growing modestly online and are expected to exceed $130 billion in 2022, up from $126.2 billion last year and $115.8 billion in 2020, Adobe reported. Apparel accounts for a 14.3% global share of e-commerce, with consumers spending an average of $10.2 billion per month, up from $8.7 billion before the pandemic, Adobe reported.

Adobe also reported that online grocery sales are expected to top $85 billion this year, up from $79.2 billion in 2021 and $73.7 billion in 2020, when online grocery spending surged. 103% due to the pandemic. Groceries now account for 8.9% of overall e-commerce share, down from 6.3% in 2019 and down slightly from 9.1% in 2020. US consumers now spend an average of $6.7 billion dollars online each month for groceries, up from $3.1 billion pre-pandemic. .

“E-commerce is being reshaped by grocery, a category with minimal discounts compared to traditional categories like electronics and apparel,” said Patrick Brown, vice president of growth marketing and information at Adobe. “This highlights a shift in the digital economy, where speed and convenience are becoming just as important as cost savings.”

Electronics, the largest e-commerce category, is expected to hit $174 billion in sales this year, up from $165 billion in 2021 and $152.7 billion in 2020, Adobe reported. Electronics accounts for 18.6% of overall e-commerce, and US consumers now spend an average of $13.6 billion per month on electronics, up from $9.9 billion pre-pandemic.

Schreiner said electronics saw 5-9% deflation before the pandemic, and with supply chain bottlenecks related to COVID-19, prices have flattened out.

Adobe also reported the following:

• Consumers have seen 60 billion out-of-stock messages in the past 24 months. They are exacerbated by supply chain constraints. The likelihood of seeing an out-of-stock message is now 1 in 59 pages, up from 1 in 200 pages before the pandemic. From November 2021 to February 2022, consumers saw more than 12 billion out-of-stock messages, a trend that is expected to continue in 2022.

• Growth in Buy Now, Pay Later orders slowed, but demand remained strong: BNPL orders were up 53% year-on-year; turnover is up by 56%.

• Curbside pickup of online orders saw strong adoption before the pandemic, although subsequent health and safety issues gave it a boost. Consumers continue to appreciate its speed and convenience. So far in 2022, curbside pickup accounts for 20% of all online orders among retailers offering the service.

Adobe derives its statistics from its Adobe Analytics unit covering over 1 trillion visits to US retail sites and over 100 million SKUs across 18 product categories. Adobe’s online inflation information is formulated using the Adobe Digital Price Index, which is modeled after the Consumer Price Index, and the Fisher Price Index.

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David A. Albanese