Holiday Shopping Online Grew at the Slowest Pace in Years

January 12, 2022

Online shopping during the holiday season in 2021 grew at the slowest rate since at least 2014, according to Adobe Analytics.

Retail sales during November and December totaled $204.5 billion, a record high and an 8.6% increase from the same period a year prior. While that may seem impressive, each of the six prior holiday shipping seasons saw year-over-year growth of at least 13%, according to Adobe.

There are several reasons for the growth slowdown in 2021, the first and foremost being the explosive growth seen during 2020 when holiday shopping online jumped 32% year-over-year. The pandemic accelerated the adoption of online shopping as what was once a novelty became a necessity for millions of Americans.

The year’s persistent supply-chain disruptions and depleted inventories also hampered online sales in 2021. Adobe found 6 billion out-of-stock messages from online retailers during the holiday season, a threefold increase from 2019’s holiday season.

Inflation has also diminished the ability of retailers to offer the type of steep discounts commonly seen during the season. Electronics, on average, were discounted just 8% last year, far less than the 21% discount seen in 2020.

Adobe’s inflation data showed that online prices were up 3.1% annually in December. That is much lower than overall inflation in the U.S. but marks the 19th consecutive month of year-over-year increases.

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