Cyber Monday 2021 is in the books, and a number of lessons have emerged from the biggest online-shopping day of the year regarding how consumers are spending. They didn’t use their mobile phones as much as expected, buy now, pay later picked up some momentum, and inflation asserted itself in the size of shopping carts, according to a report released early Tuesday by software provider Adobe Inc.
Meanwhile, Mastercard Inc.’s SpendingPulse report, which shows results through 3 p.m. Eastern Standard Time on Monday, indicates total e-commerce retail sales were up 8.7% compared to the same period last year. More impressive, they were up 11.7% over Cyber Monday in 2019, before the pandemic asserted itself. The sales increases over last year varied widely, ranging from 58.1% for apparel to just 3.9% for electronics, according to the SpendingPulse report.
In Monday’s annual online-shopping frenzy, consumers used their mobile devices for just shy of 40% of sales, with desktop devices accounting for the remainder, according to the Adobe Digital Economy Index, which is based on data gathered by Adobe Analytics. That percentage was up from last year, but still shy of what the analysts were expecting.
“With many consumers working from home, smart phones are losing some of [their] potential as a major shopping channel. For years, the trajectory showed that mobile was on a course to surpass the 50% mark in share of online sales, which has since been derailed. Consumers are using their phones to browse instead (57% share of web visits),” the Adobe analysts report.
Buy now, pay later transactions rose 1% compared to last year’s Cyber Monday, with sales volume up 21%. This result apparently represented a bit of a turnaround for the payment method, whose momentum had slowed somewhat during the weekend’s shopping frenzy. “With the biggest online-shopping day behind us, Adobe does not expect another surge in BNPL usage until closer to Christmas,” the analysts said.
While BNPL has been available for some time, the payment method took off during the pandemic, particularly online. It allows cash-strapped consumers to pay for purchases in four installments at no interest within a defined period, typically six weeks.
Meanwhile, the average price online buyers paid for the contents of their carts rose 13.9% over the same bundle last year. Adobe says this might be due to some bigger-ticket items, but also didn’t rule out recent economic trends. Buyers “are feeling the effects of persistent online inflation (e-commerce prices have been up for 17 consecutive months),” the report says.
Curbside pickup, though, more or less remained steady, according to the report, at 18% of all online orders, compared to 20% last year—a result, Adobe says, that demonstrates “the value of physical stores.”
As it does every year, Cyber Monday caps off a weekend shopping frenzy that kicks off on Black Friday. For this three-day prelude to Monday’s action, total retail sales, excluding autos, were up 14.1% compared to the same period in 2020 and up 5.8% compared to 2019, according to Mastercard’s report. Some of the big gainers, compared to last year, were apparel (up 51.2%) and jewelry (up 78.4%). Mastercard’s report takes into account all transaction methods, including cash and check.