A contractor working for Amazon.com cleans a delivery truck in Richmond, California on Tuesday, October 13, 2020.
David Paul Morris | Bloomberg | Getty Images
After months of sales and markdowns from retailers scrambling to shed excess inventory, getting shoppers to click deals this holiday season won’t be easy.
Retailers were already struggling to move products after miscalculating what shoppers would expect from the pandemic. Rising inflation has also put pressure on consumers, forcing businesses to lower prices further to entice them to buy. And to compete for holiday spending, retailers are offering deals earlier and earlier.
All of these factors are likely to dampen demand for the big holiday sales — even online, where consumers have been shopping more in recent years.
“The shape of the holiday season will look different this year as the early rebates in October add to spending that would have occurred around Cyber Week,” said Patrick Brown, Adobe’s vice president of growth marketing and insights, which uses transactional data from Used by retailers to create annual forecasts for online Christmas sales.
This year, Black Friday online sales are expected to grow just 1% year over year, while Cyber Monday revenue is expected to grow 5.1%, according to Adobe. Overall, online spending during the holiday season is forecast to grow by 2.5%, the smallest growth since Adobe started tracking that number in 2015. Adobe even warned of a possible decline, forecasting a range for revenue of between 2% and 5%. .
Last year’s Christmas business also started early. But that was because shoppers scramble to secure gifts as supply chain shortages led to shortages across a wide range of products.
Now retailers are the ones offering early deals, either to get rid of inventory or to compete for business. Ongoing discounting means spending may be more spread out this holiday season.
“This is the first year since e-commerce has taken off where things have been a little more unpredictable,” said Taylor Schreiner, senior director of Adobe Digital Insights.
Amazon holds its second Prime Day of the year on Tuesday, marking the first time the online retail giant has had two of the discount days in a year. Large retailers such as target and Walmart also start early.
Walmart’s online event, Rollbacks & More, runs Monday through Thursday featuring discounts on electronics, toys, clothing and more. Target’s Deal Days ran last week, and the retailer is extending its price match guarantee from the start of this event through Christmas Eve.
The early deals could mean people are already stocked up on gifts and decorations when the holiday shopping season traditionally kicks off after Thanksgiving. According to accounting firm PricewaterhouseCoopers, only 20% of consumers shop on Black Friday. That’s down from 36% in 2019 and 2020; The question was not asked last year.
And in a break from previous years, more stores may remain closed for Thanksgiving this year. Walmart and Target have announced that their stores will be closed over the holidays.
According to Adobe, the inflation hitting supermarket shelves isn’t as severe online. That’s mostly because fuel and food sales, which have seen some of the biggest price increases, are usually bought in person.
Nonetheless, inflation is affecting online shopping habits. On Amazon’s Prime Day in July, consumers opted more for necessities like dishwasher pads and diapers and away from luxury items like Instant Pots and Roombas.
The decline in spending is likely to carry over into the holiday season. A survey by KPMG found that 85% of Christmas shoppers are concerned about inflation and that 34% are opting for more affordable gift categories.
“Consumers will be on the lookout for promotions this holiday season and retailers should look to respond by offering desirable gifts for the value-conscious consumer,” said Matt Kramer, head of consumer and retail sectors at KPMG.
Adobe expects retailers to try to lure gift-buying with deep discounts this season, particularly in technology and toys, where prices will drop by over 20%. But even if those rebates attract shoppers, the price cuts will dampen corporate profits.