Oct 10, 2022 - Economy

Thanksgiving shopping online to decline for first time since 2015

Data: Adobe Analytics; Chart: Axios Visuals

Americans are expected to shop online less this Thanksgiving than last year, new estimates from Adobe Analytics show.

Why it matters: It's the latest piece of evidence to suggest that consumers are opting out of a craze that stores themselves have been split on.

Driving the news: Thanksgiving Day online spend is expected to decline from the previous year for the first time since Adobe started tracking figures in 2015.

  • Total sales across 85% of the top 100 U.S. e-commerce platforms are expected to reach $5.1 billion, down 1% from last year.
  • Of note: "Given that overall online retail inflation is essentially flat from last year, there would be little to no change if online retail inflation was factored in," Vivek Pandya, lead analyst of Adobe Digital Insights, tells Axios.

The big picture: The traditional holiday shopping season is becoming less important to businesses.

  • As they've gotten better at selling online, retailers trickled out deals throughout the year to manage inventory and cash flow.
  • Heavy discounts both in stores and online became an even bigger trend this year, as they struggled to clear excess inventory while record inflation and higher interest rates drove shoppers to become tight fisted. (Consumers have already spent $509 billion online so far this year — about 6% less than last year.)

What they're saying: “In years past, Thanksgiving was generally the first day that consumers began to see deals that would accelerate on Cyber Monday," says Pandya.

  • Adobe expects discounts to be as high as 32% online during Cyber Week (Thanksgiving through Cyber Monday) for computers, 27% for electronics, 22% for toys and 19% for apparel and televisions.

What to watch: In-store Thanksgiving shopping will likely be close to nonexistent for the third year in a row, Axios' Kelly Tyko reports.

  • Best Buy announced Monday that it will keep its stores closed on the holiday, but it will start Black Friday sales earlier in the week.
  • Target stores also will be closed on Thanksgiving and more retailers are expected to follow.

Our thought bubble: Amazon's Prime Day (which takes place twice this year) has also played a big role in prompting retailers like Target and Best Buy to launch their own competing sales days before the holidays.

  • Its Prime Day event in July drove $11.9 billion for retail over two days, Adobe says, and its second Prime Day happening this week will likely help lead to a big pre-holiday shopping boost, and hurt sales during Thanksgiving and beyond.
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