Adobe: Shoppers Have Seen Over 2 Billion Out-of-Stock Messages Online (October 2021)

Adobe today released its first set of online shopping data for the 2021 holiday season. As part of the Adobe Digital Economy Index, Adobe provides a comprehensive view into U.S. e-commerce by analyzing direct consumer transactions online. Based on Adobe Analytics data, the analysis covers over one trillion visits to U.S. retail sites, 100 million SKUs, and 18 product categories – more than any other technology company or research organization.

Consumers have started shopping earlier this season, enticed by a wave of earlier deals. $72.4 billion have been spent online in October 2021, representing 8 percent growth year-over-year (YoY). The spend is being driven by categories including toys (sales up 50% versus September 2021 average), groceries (up 34%), video games (up 20%), and gift cards (up 20%). Year-to-date (Jan 2021 – Oct 2021), $680 billion have been spent online, up 9 percent YoY and up 57 percent versus 2019.

As e-commerce demand picks up, shoppers are feeling the impact of ongoing supply chain constraints: Out-of-stock messages have risen a whopping 250 percent in October 2021, when compared to a pre-pandemic period (Jan 2020); When compared to two holiday seasons ago (Oct 2019), it is up a staggering 325 percent. And, in this last month alone (Oct 2021), consumers have seen over 2 billion out-of-stock messages online. Of the 18 categories tracked by Adobe, electronics has the highest out-of-stock levels currently, followed by jewelry, apparel, home & garden, and pet products.

“With over 2 billion out-of-stock messages last month, consumers are beginning to understand the real impact of the supply chain challenges,” said Taylor Schreiner, director of Adobe Digital Insights. “Some have begun to adjust their holiday strategy accordingly, with parents shopping for toys earlier and some settling for gift cards this season. For those who have not yet started their holiday shopping, they will need to be prepared to be flexible.”

Despite earlier deals this season, discounts are weaker across several categories. This includes electronics, where discount levels are at 8.7 percent, compared to 13.2 percent at this point last year; Sporting Goods at 2.8 percent (vs 11.2 percent); Appliances at 4.6 percent (vs 10.2 percent). Tools/Home improvement are seeing no discounts at all, with prices up 1.2 percent, compared to a 6.8 percent discount last year. Discounts for Televisions are at 7.4 percent, near last year’s levels at 7.7 percent; Same for Furniture at 1.1 percent (vs 1.4 percent). Toys are currently seeing bigger discounts than 2020 at 15.9 percent (vs 7.5 percent), as are computers at 12.4 percent (vs 11.9 percent). [Timeframe: Adobe looked at Nov 6 prices relative to Oct 1, for the 2021 and 2020 discount levels].

Additional Insights Include:

  • Top Products: Top toys so far include Pop Fidget toys, Got2Glow Fairy Finder, and Bluey toys; Top electronics and devices include Oculus Quest 2, soundbars, Samsung & TCL televisions, PlayStation 5, Nintendo Switch, Xbox Series S, air fryers, Roku Streaming Sticks, Fire TV Sticks, HP Laptops, Chromebooks, and Dell Notebooks.
  • Buy Now Pay Later (BNPL): Usage of BNPL services dipped in Oct 2021, with revenue down 14% YoY and orders down 15% YoY. Adobe expects BNPL to pick up further into the season, when consumers begin to make larger purchases.
  • Fulfillment: In Oct 2021, curbside pickup was used in 18.4% of all online orders (for retailers who offer the service). This is on par with Oct 2020 levels (6% higher compared to Oct 2019 levels). Use of expedited shipping grew 5.6% YoY last month. Adobe expects both fulfillment options to pick up in coming weeks, as consumers begin to worry about shipping delays.