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Pre-Cyber Monday Digital Sales Up 18% Despite Higher Prices, Smaller Discounts, and Fewer Products

Woman shopping in store

With goods still stuck at ports, retailers shrink product catalogs by 4% to cope with lower holiday inventory

Early holiday shopping is driving an increase in digital sales this year, with few signs that economic and logistical headwinds are slowing them down. This is according to new digital commerce sales data (Salesforce Shopping Index, November 1-November 15) and a global Salesforce Insights Survey of 11,738 respondents.

Retailers grappling with supply chain concerns and increased costs, however, will need to think differently as sales happen earlier and consumers search for discounts.

The Salesforce perspective: Rob Garf, VP and GM of Retail, Salesforce, said:

  • “With inflation and supply chain issues top of mind for shoppers this year, we’re seeing an increased focus on early holiday shopping.”
  • “While many retailers have pulled back on discounting due to limited product availability, they’ll need to embrace a variety of tactics — from loyalty programs to order fulfillment options to a reconsidered stance on discounting — to win over these early shoppers.”
  • “Consumers may finally lose the game of discount chicken this holiday — with discounts down by 5% from last season. Any discount over 25% is a good one based on what we’re seeing this year — so consumers should act early.”

Shopping Index Fast Facts (November 1 – 15): 

  • With consumers kicking off holiday shopping early, digital commerce revenue is up 18% in the United States and 8% globally year-over-year (YoY).
  • Average Selling Price (ASP) is up so far this holiday season compared to last year, with prices rising 12% in the United States and 11% globally. 
  • Retailers have pulled back on early-season discounts with rates in the United States down 16% and 10% globally YoY.
  • Product categories with the most YoY growth to start the holiday shopping season include:
    • Luxury Handbags (+59%)
    • Footwear (+37%)
    • Furniture (+44%)
  • In the United States, retail catalogs (number of products being sold) grew by just 1% this year between November 1 – 15. In 2020, catalogs grew 20% over the same period. Global catalogs saw a 4% shrinkage between November 1-15 (compared to a 34% growth in 2020).

Salesforce Insights Survey Fast Facts:

  • More consumers plan to buy holiday gifts this year, with 74% planning to purchase gifts this year over 69% in 2020.
  • As consumers face rising prices, 70% plan to spend the same or slightly less on gifts for the holidays compared to last year.
  • While the majority of consumers (58%) plan to do in-store holiday shopping this year, 56% also plan to buy online and ship to their home. In addition, 19% plan to buy online and pick up in-store or curbside. 
  • A large percentage of consumers are concerned about issues like pricing or shipping delays this holiday season, with most stating that they are either “very” or “somewhat” concerning:
    • Rising prices (due to inflation) — 89%
    • Product availability — 79%
    • Shipping delays — 78%
    • Health and safety of shopping indoors — 70%
  • When making a purchase and deciding between brands, consumers cited the following factors as most important:
    • Product quality — 65%
    • Discounts — 57%
    • Availability — 39%

Zoom out: Despite increased costs due to supply chain challenges and labor shortages, Cyber Week is expected to produce record digital growth in the United States and globally. The data points to a shift in consumer shopping habits and expectations and signals that shoppers who turned to digital last year are continuing to drive digital commerce growth this holiday season. 

Explore further:

  • Visit the Holiday Insights Hub for real-time Cyber Week results starting on November 25. 
  • Find Salesforce’s original 2021 holiday themes and predictions here and here.

2021 Salesforce Holiday Insights and Predictions Methodology

To help retailers and brands benchmark holiday performance, Salesforce analyzes aggregated data to produce holiday insights from the activity of over a billion global shoppers across more than 54 countries powered by Commerce Cloud, in addition to Marketing Cloud and Service Cloud data from retailers. Salesforce’s holiday data set includes 24 of the top 30 U.S. online retailers on the 2021 Digital Commerce 360 list and utilizes publicly available third-party data sources.

To qualify for inclusion in the analysis set, a digital commerce site must have transacted throughout the analysis period, in this case October 1, 2019 through November 15, 2021, and meet a monthly minimum visit threshold. Additional data hygiene factors are applied to ensure consistent metric calculation.

The Salesforce holiday predictions are not indicative of the operational performance of Salesforce or its reported financial metrics including GMV growth and comparable customer GMV growth.

Salesforce Insights Survey Methodology

Every quarter, Salesforce Insights surveys the general population to discover how consumer opinions and behaviors are changing over time. For our third and newest survey, we polled 11,738 consumers across Australia, New Zealand, Brazil, Canada, France, Germany, Japan, Portugal, Spain, United Kingdom, and the United States between October 19, 2021 to November 1, 2021.

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