Before we hit the ‘20s, Cyber Week was predictable, a word we haven’t dared to use since. Thanksgiving Day through Cyber Monday are typically the most concentrated holiday shopping days of the season. Brands planned for a rush of in-person shopping on those first two days, ending with a surge of online shopping on Cyber Monday. But unlike years prior, Cyber Week saw its first decline in spending. Thanksgiving Day came up flat in YoY performance at $5.1 billion, Black Friday spending was down 1.3 percent YoY at $8.9 billion, and Cyber Monday was down 1.4 percent at $10.7 billion (Adobe Analytics).

To help make sense of this new trend, we did as we always do and asked DEG, a Merkle Company experts for their insights about the following two themes throughout the week.

 

The Impact of Supply Chain Issues

A huge topic of conversation for marketers and customers alike this year was the concern around supply chain issues. For a multitude of reasons, the pandemic made it difficult to maintain adequate staff to manufacture and ship products across every industry. After feeling these effects over the last year, customers started their holiday shopping earlier than usual. And while marketers saw this throughout the past few years, concerns over shipping delays accelerated this trend. In anticipation for earlier last-day-to-shop windows, customers started holiday shopping especially early this year to make sure gifts arrive in time.

 

Where Customers Choose to Shop

After observing consumer behavior so far this holiday season, analysts expect shoppers to spread out their spending over a long period of time as they continue to value saving money over anything else. Consumers are willing to spend time researching when their favorite brands will offer the best deals, making them more flexible about when they purchase holiday gifts. And that includes choosing how they shop, whether the deals are best online or in store.

In direct correlation to delayed shipping concerns, brands have extended their holiday deals earlier and later to give customers more options. Customers who prefer to shop online were able to take advantage of holiday discounts as early as November 1, while the last-minute shoppers can skip the shipping wait and go straight to the store.

This provides two key insights for brands. First, you should expect more in-store shopping as we get closer to the holidays with less time for items to ship. And second, having a strong omni-channel approach with online and in-store inventory visibility, curbside pickup, and buy online, pick up in store is key for winning and retaining customer relationships.

 

What This Means for Holiday Spending

While Cyber Week was not as fruitful as years past, this doesn’t mean consumers are spending less on holiday shopping. The biggest takeaway so far in 2021 is that shoppers care more about discounts than they do proximity to the holiday season, or even how they buy their gifts. We’re already seeing this contrast between spending during Cyber Week compared to spending throughout November this year. From November 1 to November 29, consumers spent $109.8 billion, which is an 11.9-percent increase from 2020 spending. So, while this Cyber Week was the first decline, spending throughout the holiday season is projected to hit a record $207 billion and see 10 percent YoY growth (Adobe Analytics).

Interested in learning more about how these holiday trends impact your brand and what you can do to address them? Talk to a DEG commerce expert.

A special thanks to our thought leaders who contributed to this article:

Andy Warren, Director of Commerce
Jen Karlson, Commerce Strategist
Ashleigh Ball, Relationship Marketing Strategist

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