$72 billion spent on e-commerce in October, but shoppers report 2 billion out-of-stock messages: Adobe

Adobe's Digital Economy Index showed that the holiday shopping season has already started for many people.
Written by Jonathan Greig, Contributor on

Holiday shoppers started early this year according to the Adobe Digital Economy Index, which found that $72.4 billion was spent online in October, an 8% year-over-year growth. 

But alongside the increased buying were more reports of out-of-stock messages, which grew 250% in October compared to the last pre-pandemic period in January 2020. 

Consumers reportedly saw more than 2 billion out-of-stock messages online, according to Adobe. Electronics, jewelry, apparel, home & garden and pet products were the categories that had the highest out-of-stock levels. 

The Adobe Digital Economy Index is based on Adobe's Analytics platform that has access to data on "over one trillion visits to US retail sites and over 100 million SKUs in 18 product categories."

The index found that toy sales, groceries, video games and gift cards are driving the increase in spending throughout October. Toy sales in October were up 50% compared to September and grocery sales were up 34%. 

From January to October, at least $680 billion was spent online.

Adobe also noted that discounts have fallen this year compared to last year. For electronics, retailers are only offering discount levels at 8.7%, a decrease compared to the 13.2% in October 2020. 

Sporting goods items are at 2.8% this year compared to 11.2% last year and similar decreases were seen with appliances (4.6% vs. 10.2%) as well as tools or home improvement products, which are seeing no discounts at all. Prices for tools have actually increased 1.2% compared to the 6.8% discount shoppers saw last year. 

Some products are seeing a similar level of discounts as last year, including televisions at about 7% and furniture at more than 1%. Toys are actually seeing more discounts than 2020 at almost 16% alongside computers, which are getting 12.4% discounts compared to last year's 11.9%

The top toys ranged from Pop Fidget toys and Got2Glow Fairy Finders to Bluey toys. The list of the most popular electronics included 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.

Adobe noted that the use of Buy Now Pay Later platforms like Klarna actually fell in October, with revenue for the services dropping by 14% year-over-year. But Adobe said it expects usage of these sites to increase deeper into November and December.

Curbside pickup was used in more than 18% of all online orders in October, according to Adobe data, and expedited shipping usage grew by nearly 6%.

"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."

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