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Insights for VARs and ISVs from 2021 Holiday Shopping Statistics

Looking back at the 2021 holiday shopping season statistics, you will find good news and bad news. Here’s an overview of the season, what stats may indicate about changing consumer behaviors and how you can help your clients prepare for a successful 2022.

First, the bad news.

December Retail Sales Were Lower than Projected

Holiday recapThe U.S. Commerce Department reports that retail sales decreased 1.9 percent in December from November. That phenomenon could be attributed to shoppers making their holiday purchases earlier, driven by concerns that supply chain disruptions would mean they couldn’t find the merchandise they wanted later. Additionally, fears over the omicron COVID-19 variant spikes and rising inflation could have attributed to consumers putting the brakes on in December.

Now the good news.

December sales were higher than the same month in 2020, and overall, 2021 sales grew by 19.3 percent year over year, according to the Department of Commerce.

Consumers Shopped Online

Adobe Analytics online holiday shopping statistics for 2021, which the firm defines as November 1 through December 31, show consumers’ continued preference for online shopping. According to Adobe, consumers spent $204.5 billion online, an 8.6 percent year-over-year increase. Interestingly, consumers seemed to veer from the typical schedule during the 2021 holiday shopping season. Adobe Analytics statistics show that online sales in the weeks before Thanksgiving grew by 19.2 percent, Cyber Monday sales were down 1.4 percent, and sales between Thanksgiving and New Year’s grew 5.6 percent.

Online Shopping Took Place on Smartphones

Adobe also reports that 43 percent of online sales were initiated on smartphones, which is about on par with 2020 holiday shopping statistics. Consumers turned to smartphones for shopping, particularly on Thanksgiving, Super Saturday, December 19, Christmas Eve, and Christmas Day, when more than 50 percent of online sales took place on phones.

Analysts predict even more growth in mobile commerce. eMarketer projects that sales on smartphones will double by 2025 to ready more than $700 billion.

Consumers Picked Up Curbside

Consumers chose curbside pickup for 23 percent of their 2021 holiday shopping season online orders, according to Adobe. As in holiday seasons past, curbside pickup increased closer to Christmas, when there wasn’t time for shipping.

Consumers Buy Now, Pay Later

Adobe also reports that consumer behaviors followed specific trends in 2021. Buy now pay later (BPNL) sales increased by 27 percent year over year, with consumers putting three items in their shopping carts and spending an average of $224 per order. Analysts point out, however, that the growth of BPNL is slowing, which may signify that adoption is leveling.

Takeaways for Solution Providers

Although 2021 holiday shopping statistics show that the season differed in several ways from years past, they shouldn’t come as a surprise to retail solutions providers. Trends accelerated by the pandemic, such as online shopping and curbside pickup, continued during the holiday shopping season. Additionally, concerns over COVID-19 and the supply chain indicated months before holiday shopping that many consumers would purchase gifts early to ensure they could find what they wanted.

Although how the 2022 holiday shopping season will shape up remains to be seen, it’s smart to share the insights from 2021 with your clients, identify pain points they experienced and provide the technology they need to solve them. For example, an omnichannel payments solution can help merchants manage payments on all channels – in-store, online, unattended and more – and confirm online payments with the curbside pickup team or returns counter.

Help your clients plan now for a successful 2022.

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