(Bloomberg) — Lackluster 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.
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U.S. shoppers spent $7.1 billion on Cyber Monday as of 9 p.m. New York time, according to Adobe Inc. It’s too early to determine if Cyber Monday breaks last year’s online spending record of $10.8 billion. 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 will rise 4% to $11.3 billion.
“While the spending may pick 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 L.O.L. 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% last year, according to Adobe, which tracks 1 trillion visits to retail websites and monitors sales of more than 100 million products.
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 $8.9 billion fell slightly from a year ago, Adobe said. Still, U.S. online spending from Nov. 1 through Nov. 28 rose 13.6% from a year ago to $99.1 billion, according to Adobe. The total for November and December combined is set to reach $207 billion, up 10% from last year’s pandemic-fueled record, Adobe said.
The overall spending uptick is good news for merchants who sell on Amazon.com Inc., so long as they got inventory into the U.S. 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, chief executive officer of Miami-based GOJA, which sells various products on Amazon, including a Luna Bean plaster molding 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 $225 million 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 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.”
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