US spent $62 billion online during Cyber Week; global spending topped $275 billion

Consumers spent $74 billion in the first three weeks of November, a 10% increase compared to last year.
Written by Jonathan Greig, Contributor

Data from Salesforce indicates that $62 billion was spent in the US online during Cyber Week this year, a 4% increase compared to 2020. Global spending during Cyber Week grew 2% compared to 2020, with consumers spending $275 billion. 

Salesforce analyzes aggregated retailer data from its Commerce Cloud, Marketing Cloud and Service Cloud products across 54 countries. Data from 24 of the top 30 US digital retailers is included in Salesforce's calculations alongside other third-party data. 

As Adobe and other e-commerce trackers have noticed through their own data, spending started at the beginning of November. 

US consumers spent $136 billion online throughout November this year, an increase of 9% compared to last year. Global consumer spending online reached $593 billion for November, up 3% year over year, according to Salesforce. Consumers spent $74 billion in the first three weeks of November, a 10% increase compared to last year. 

One area that stood out to Salesforce researchers involved curbside pickups. Stores in the US that offered curbside and in-store pickup options saw 50% increases in revenue compared to 2020 during Black Friday. 

Clara Shih, CEO of Service Cloud at Salesforce, told ZDNet it's no surprise consumers started their e-commerce shopping early this season, considering the news about supply chain issues and COVID-19 variants like Omicron. 

"This is actually a huge plus for businesses; demand is much more manageable if it's spread out. For example, last year we saw an uptick in customer service cases the week before Christmas; however this year we're seeing much larger volumes consistently since the beginning of November," Shih said. 

"It will be interesting to see if that peak happens at the same time this year, despite much higher case interactions throughout the past month. The workers who are packing orders, delivering packages, and handling customer service inquiries can handle a steady flow of orders much faster and more accurately when these orders are spread out over weeks rather than a few days."

Salesforce also tracked data on customer service interactions, finding all-time highs in the number of calls, texts, and chatbot sessions between customers and company employees. 

Call volumes to customer service teams grew by 39% year over year during Cyber Week. There were more than 5.3 million chatbot sessions held over Cyber Week, a 28% increase compared to 2020 according to Salesforce. 

There was also a 130% increase in text messages sent to the customer service arms of companies. Salesforce researchers found the number of texts during Cyber Week 2021 reached 20.4 million, dwarfing the 8.9 million seen in 2020. 

"So far, December looks like customer service inquiries will continue to increase; this is likely because you're now getting customers reaching out about orders they are currently purchasing, as well as orders they made last month and are likely receiving right about now," Shih said. 

The much-discussed supply chain issues afflicting dozens of countries had an effect on the products available this year, according to Salesforce. The number of products being sold by a company this year fell 6% in the US and 6% worldwide.   

Shih noted that discounts this year have been lower year over year throughout the holiday season. The average discount during Cyber Week was down 8% compared to last year in the US and globally. 

Discounts in December have hovered around 14%, Shih said. Salesforce tracks the average selling price, finding it up more than 11% during Cyber Week in the US and 5% globally compared to 2020. 

To deal with dearth of sales, a growing number of consumers now use Buy Now, Pay Later (BNPL) platforms like Klarna, Affirm, and AfterPay to cover costs. During Cyber Week, Salesforce found that BNPL platforms were used in 8% of all orders globally, a growth of 29% compared to 2020. 

More than $22 billion was spent through BNPL platforms during Cyber Week. In the US, 4% of all orders came through BNPL platforms on Black Friday. 

"On the merchant side, it speaks to a growing comfort with AI algorithms which predict consumers' creditworthiness and ability to pay over time. For consumers, adoption of BNPL reflects the economic uncertainty around Covid and new variants like Omicron," Shih said. 

Editorial standards