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Lacklustre deals and scarce inventory kept Cyber Monday sales flat compared with a year ago, the latest indication that shoppers made purchases earlier in the season due to concerns about global shipping logjams.

US shoppers had spent $7.1bn on Cyber Monday as of 9pm New York time, according to Adobe. It’s too early to determine if Cyber Monday breaks 2020’s online spending record of $10.8bn. Spending peaks during the final few hours of the big sale day since shoppers fear prices will only rise between now and Christmas. Adobe releases final Cyber Monday sales estimates on Tuesday morning. It earlier predicted sales would rise 4% to $11.3bn.

“While the spending may [have picked up] during the evening hours on the West Coast, it reaffirms that many consumers had fulfilled their shopping urge earlier in the season,” said Vivek Pandya, lead analyst at Adobe Digital Insights.

Hot sellers so far included LOL Surprise dolls, Lego sets and Star Wars toys, Adobe said. Discounts were weak compared with a year earlier. For instance, electronics had average discounts of about 12% compared with 27% in 2020, according to Adobe, which tracks 1-trillion visits to retail websites and monitors sales of more than 100-million products.

Big sale days such as Black Friday and Cyber Monday have been gradually losing their prominence as shoppers spread their spending over longer periods. Black Friday spending of $8.9bn fell slightly from a year ago, Adobe said. Still, US online spending from November 1 to November 28 rose 13.6% from a year ago to $99.1bn, according to Adobe. The total for November and December combined is set to reach $207bn, up 10% from 2020’s pandemic-fuelled record, Adobe said.

The overall spending uptick is good news for merchants who sell on Amazon.com, as long as they got inventory into the US in time. Some Amazon aggregators — businesses that raise money to buy and invest in popular Amazon brands — said sales were up as much as 50% from a year ago for products that make good gifts and are adequately stocked.

“This is a make-or-break season for aggregators and whoever has inventory is going to win,” said Walter Gonzalez, CEO of Miami-based Goja, which sells various products on Amazon, including a Luna Bean plaster moulding kit to make statues out of your hands.

Branded Group, which sells more than 40 housewares, personal care and leisure brands on Amazon and has raised $225m to expand, is selling about 50% more products than it did a year ago, co-founder and CEO Pierre Poignant said. The company’s big sellers include Ototo’s bat-shaped wine bottle opener.

“Kitchen products are doing very well,” he said. “We made investments to make sure we had sufficient inventory for the holidays.”

The shift in spending from stores to websites — accelerated during the pandemic in 2020 — has made the holiday shopping season boring, said Juozas Kaziukenas, founder and CEO of Marketplace Pulse, which monitors online sales.

“Physical Black Friday had this aura of craziness because people fought in stores and camped outside,” he said. “Now that so much has shifted online, it’s lost its excitement.”

More stories like this are available on bloomberg.com



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