Salesforce predicts over 1.4 billion orders purchased this holiday season will be returned
Seamless fulfillment and easy returns will be key strategies for retailers looking to drive loyalty and profitability through the remainder of the holidays
Despite economic challenges, global online sales across the first three weeks of December increased 2% year over year (YoY), representing $395 billion in online holiday spend. Convenience continues to be a priority for 2022 shoppers as Buy Online and Pick Up In Store (BOPIS) accounted for 23% of online orders during the final full weekend of holiday shopping.
Salesforce analyzed shopping data across commerce, marketing, and service from over 1.5 billion people shopping on retail sites (including 24 of the top 30 U.S. online retailers) using Salesforce Customer 360 and found:
Key holiday insights (November 29–December 19):
- U.S. consumers keep up the shopping momentum: U.S. online sales grew 8% YoY across the three weeks following Cyber Week 2022, with $97 billion in holiday orders placed.
- U.S. buoys global online sales: Since Nov. 1, U.S. digital sales are up 5% YoY, reaching $245 billion, while global sales are flat at $1.03 trillion. Online sales across Europe continue to fall due to geopolitical and economic challenges.
- A returns tsunami is in the forecast: Lowered consumer confidence and discretionary spending is making consumers think twice about their purchases. Returns nearly doubled the week after Cyber Week compared to the previous year and have remained high since then. As consumers become more discerning about discretionary spending, this may be from those who purchased gifts earlier in the season returning products to buy them back at a steeper discount.
- Salesforce now predicts over 1.4 billion orders purchased this holiday season (13% of orders) will be returned – up 57% YoY.
- Retailers aren’t shying away from discounts: Despite lackluster deals early in the shopping season, data indicates the average discount rate for the three weeks after Cyber Week remains higher than last year when there was inventory scarcity and high demand. The average U.S. discount rate stands at 19%, with the global discount rate at 18%, an increase of 6% globally and in the U.S. YoY. Discounts surged two weeks after Cyber Week, rising 11% globally YoY and 14% in the U.S. as retailers looked to entice last minute shoppers ahead of the shipping cutoff window.
- Top December discounting categories:
- Skincare (26%)
- General Apparel (24%)
- Makeup (20%)
- Top December discounting categories:
- BOPIS to the rescue for last-minute shoppers: Nearly one out of every five online orders placed globally this holiday season has been via Buy Online and Pick Up In Store (BOPIS). BOPIS usage peaked at 20.2% of orders during Cyber Week before dipping to 19% in the following two weeks. BOPIS usage picked up again after the ground shipping cutoff over the weekend before Christmas. On Friday, Dec. 16 BOPIS orders surged to 23% of total order volume and continued to grow over the weekend, peaking at 25% of all orders on Saturday. These are the highest rates of BOPIS observed during the entire holiday season.
- Salesforce now predicts BOPIS usage will surge the week before Christmas. With the ground shipping window closed, companies that offer BOPIS will grow 40-50% higher than those without this fulfillment option in the final days leading up to Christmas.
- Social continues to fuel online shopping traffic: After hitting all-time highs during Cyber Week, social traffic referring to retailers’ sites grew 23% YoY over the first three weeks of December globally, representing 12% of all mobile traffic. The U.S. is leading this trend, with social traffic growing 28% YoY over the first three weeks of December.
- Top shopping categories for the three weeks after Cyber Week include:
- Active Footwear (+40% YoY)
- Active apparel (+22% YoY)
- General footwear (+19% YoY)
The Salesforce perspective: “After a surprisingly strong Cyber Week in the U.S., retailers are continuing to offer attractive online discounts in the final few weeks of the holiday to clear balance sheets and shelf space,” said Rob Garf, VP and GM of Retail, Salesforce.
Retailers must now turn their attention to extending the online shopping window with creative store fulfillment and preparing for the imminent returns tsunami to drive both loyalty and profitability during the season’s homestretch.Rob Garf
- Visit the Shopping Insights HQ for additional holiday data.
- View our Cyber Week 2022 insights here.
- View Salesforce’s early predictions for the holiday season here.
2022 Salesforce Holiday Insights and Predictions Methodology
Salesforce delivers retail success now with data and insights from the shopping behavior of consumers around the world. To help retailers and brands benchmark holiday performance, Salesforce analyzes aggregated data to produce holiday insights from the activity of over 1.5 billion global shoppers across more than 64 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 Oct. 1, 2019 through Dec. 19, 2022, and met 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.