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Picture: BLOOMBERG
Picture: BLOOMBERG

Final sales for Cyber Monday fell short of estimates and didn’t surpass last year’s record as lacklustre sales and scarce inventory kept shoppers from breaking out their credit cards during the start of the holiday shopping season. 

US shoppers spent $10.7bn on Cyber Monday, according to Adobe, less than the $10.8bn a year earlier and missing Adobe’s estimate of $11.3bn. But Adobe said it still remains the biggest shopping day of the year. Consumers spent $12m a minute as the clocked ticked on the final sales of the day. 

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

Shipping bottle necks and supply logjams are also causing problems for shoppers. The occurrence of out-of-stock messages rose 169% compared with January 2020 and 258% from November 2019, Adobe said. 

Big sale days like 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. The total for November and December combined is set to reach $207bn, up 10% from last year’s pandemic-fuelled record, Adobe said.

The overall spending uptick is good news for merchants that sell on Amazon.com, so 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 are 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 products on Amazon, including a Luna Bean plaster moulding kit to make statues out of your hands.

Branded Group, which sells more than 40 houseware, 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,” Poignant said.

The shift in spending from stores to websites — accelerated during the pandemic last year — 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.”

Bloomberg News. More stories like this are available on bloomberg.com

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