Adobe: US consumers spent $12 million every minute during Cyber Monday's peak shopping hour

Despite decreased spending on Cyber Monday and Black Friday, spending throughout the month of November grew 12% compared to 2020.
Written by Jonathan Greig, Contributor

Adobe has released new data showing that US consumers spent $10.7 billion on Cyber Monday, making it the biggest online shopping day of the year.

Despite the eye-popping figures spent on the shopping holiday, it represented a year over year decrease of 1.4%. According to Adobe's data, during the peak shopping hour of 11pm-12am ET/8pm-9pm PT, US consumers spent $12 million every minute. 

Adobe's researchers found that $33.9 billion was spent from Thanksgiving Day through Cyber Monday. The numbers from the high shopping days -- now dubbed Cyber Week -- were also down 1.4% due to decreases in spending on Black Friday and the same amount of spending on Thanksgiving Day compared to 2020. 

Taylor Schreiner, director of Adobe Digital Insights, attributes the small decreases to less spending and more spread out shopping.

"With early deals in October, consumers were not waiting around for discounts on big shopping days like Cyber Monday and Black Friday," Schreiner says in the blog post

"This was further fueled by growing awareness of supply chain challenges and product availability. It spread out e-commerce spending across the months of October and November, putting us on track for a season that still will break online shopping records." 

Adobe points to the fact that even though spending was down slightly during Cyber Week, spending throughout November was up almost 12% compared to last year, with $109.8 billion spent from November 1 to November 29. 

In November, 22 days saw spending surpass $3 billion -- more than any other year on record. In 2020, just nine days saw more than $3 billion in spending, according to Adobe, which has been tracking e-commerce spending since 2012. 

Adobe is predicting that for the 2021 November and December holiday shopping season, $207 billion will be spent, representing a 10% increase year over year. That figure would represent a new e-commerce record. 

Spending on Cyber Monday was driven by huge increases in shopping for toys, which saw 11 times as much spending as it did in September. Gift cards, books, video games, and toddler products all saw more than six times as much spending than usual. 

Items like Hot Wheels, Nerf toys, Baby Alive, Paw Patrol, Squeakee toys, and Tamagotchi Pix saw the most interest, according to Adobe, as well as video games like Just Dance 2022, Mario Party Superstars, SpiderMan: Miles Morales, and FIFA 22. 

Adobe data also indicates that the final price shoppers had in their carts when they checked out was 13.9% higher on Cyber Monday and 19% during November overall. Their analysts float a number of different theories for this, including the idea that shoppers were generally hunting for bigger ticket items like TVs and furniture on Cyber Monday. 

They also wonder whether some shoppers were being hit with online price inflation, noting that e-commerce prices have generally been high for the last 17 months. 

Along those same lines, discounts were generally down this year, even on Cyber Monday. 

In 2020, shoppers saw 27% decreases in prices for electronics but only saw 12% discounts overall this year. TVs were down 18% last year but only 13% this year, while sporting goods and appliances saw 20% discounts last year but only 8% discounts in 2021. 

Adobe predicts that the best day to buy a laptop will be Wednesday, December 1, when discount levels will reach 26%. But overall, Adobe says discounts will start to wane as companies return to normal pricing and shipping costs begin to increase. 

Out-of-stock messages were abnormally high on Cyber Monday, increasing 8% compared to November 22. November's out-of-stock messages are up 169% compared to pre-pandemic levels in January 2020. Compared to November 2019, out-of-stock messages are up 258%. Adobe analysts say it's likely these messages will continue to plague consumers through December. 

Adobe notes that there was a 21% increase in consumers using "buy now, pay later" (BNPL) platforms on Cyber Monday compared to last year. 

"It is the exception and the first time this season where usage had not slowed. But with the biggest online shopping day behind us, Adobe does not expect another surge in BNPL usage until closer to Christmas," Adobe analysts write. 

Surprisingly, the number of consumers shopping through their smartphones decreased on Cyber Monday, accounting for 39.7% of all online sales. Adobe attributes the decline to the number of people still working remotely. Smartphone usage for shopping had steadily increased each year and was on pace to surpass 50% of all online sales before the pandemic. 

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