Adobe's Digital Price Index highlights record-setting e-commerce inflation

The company's online sales tracker reveals holiday discounts are doing little to combat scarcity-driven inflation.
Written by Michael Gariffo, Staff Writer

Adobe's Digital Price Index (DPI) for the month of November 2021 revealed that year-over-year (YoY) inflation among online shopping purchases has reached a record-setting 3.5%. The measurement tool, which is based on the US Bureau of Labor Statistics' Consumer Price Index, tracks 1 trillion visits to retail sites, as well as 100 million unique product SKUs.

According to Adobe, the November edition of the e-commerce study marked its 18th straight recorded month of online inflation.

Although month-over-month (MoM) pricing did drop 2% thanks to predictable holiday shopping discounts, annual pricing growth spiked to the highest levels seen since the company began tracking e-commerce sales back in 2014. 

Among the 18 sales categories Adobe tracks, Apparel showed the most severe pricing increase with a huge 17.3% rise from this time last year -- and a measly 0.4% drop from last month due to minimal end-of-year discounts. Flower & Related Gifts held a close second among price bumps, with a 15.48% YoY increase and a 0.19% seasonal discount drop. 

Computers dropped even more, plummeting 5.64% for the biggest deflation figure on the November list. 

Despite the record-setting price increases, online sales continued to flourish as a whole. Adobe noted that one in every four dollars spent in the US is now part of an online transaction. According to the company, this is due to everyday purchases moving from brick and mortar locations to the internet at an increasing rate. Adobe's online sales figures show "non-fuel retail spending" has tripled over the past decade, with categories like Groceries leading the charge. 

As for what's powering this year's massive inflation figures, Adobe points the finger squarely at a phrase that's become the bane of shoppers around the world: supply chain issues. According to Patrick Brown, vice president of growth marketing and insights at Adobe, "supply chain constraints and durable consumer demand have underpinned the record high inflation in e-commerce." 

With demand continuing to outpace supply for so many retailers, the drive to offer holiday discounts is particularly low this year. In fact, Pet Products, Groceries, and Tools & Home Improvement all showed MoM increases. 

As the world continues coping with new logistical realities catalyzed by the COVID-19 pandemic, it remains to be seen how long the trend will linger.

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