Consumers spent $211.7 billion online over the 2022 holiday season (from November 1 to December 31), growing 3.5% year over year, per Adobe Analytics.
This is below our forecast of $239.26 billion in ecommerce sales, meaning the headwinds we predicted (e.g., rising inflation, a stronger demand for experiences versus physical goods, product availability, and a longer holiday buying season) may have had a greater effect on spending than we anticipated.
That said, according to Mastercard, total US retail sales (both in-store and online) were up 7.6% year over year during the holiday season (November 1 to December 24). This is in line with our prediction that total holiday sales would grow 7.0% to reach $1.297 trillion.
Predictably, the toy category was a big winner online, with sales growing 206% compared to pre-holiday season levels, according to Adobe Analytics. Video games (up 115%) and apparel/accessories (up 94%) also saw strong demand.
In another unsurprising turn, online discounts hit record highs as consumers sought the best deals. The highest discount rate was on toys (34% versus 19% in 2021), followed by electronics (25% versus 8%), computers (20% versus 10%), and apparel (19% versus 13%).
Search still dominates: Echoing the Cyber Five, paid search remained the biggest driver of sales for retailers, with 29% of online sales attributed to that channel. Direct web visits (19%), organic search (17%), affiliates/partners (16%), and email (15%) were also major drivers.
Mall madness: Average monthly visits to indoor malls were up 40.3% month over month in December, per Placer.ai. Visits steadily climbed throughout the month, peaking at 55.5% over average weekly visits the week of December 26.
The bottom line: The holiday season wasn’t a bust. Inflation may have forced retailers to discount deeper than they normally would, but it worked, encouraging consumers to spend their hard-earned cash on gifts and holiday treats.
What lies ahead: Returns season. As customers wade through their holiday hauls, there are bound to be some items going back to the store.
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