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That the pandemic drove heightened levels of shopping to the web is no secret. But while COVID-19 may have funneled huge levels of traffic to online stores, new data from Adobe adds reason to believe that such behaviors aren’t going to dissipate along with lockdowns. Add ripple effects from Amazon’s Prime Day to the mix, and e-commerce could be set to explode.
But the Adobe Digital Economy Index also tells another story. The report, released Wednesday, may show Amazon’s success with toys and electronics, but that magic touch still doesn’t extend to fashion.
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Popular products during the previous Prime Day, held in October of last year, include books, gadgets and home appliances, which saw jumps of 112 percent, 77 percent and 52 percent, respectively.
The laggards? Apparel, at 11 percent, and jewelry, at 10 percent.
“Because there were a lot of department stores and clothing stores still closed or partially open, you want online apparel to be performing at an elevated level, of a very sizable elevated level,” Vivek Pandya, senior manager at Adobe Digital Insights, explained to WWD. “So it increased, but it was a more moderate increase relative to things like electronics and other categories we profile.”
He believes at least part of the reason is that fashion, which tends to discount more on a seasonal basis to make room for new collections, doesn’t necessarily follow the same sort of price-slashing methodology or timing as toys, games and other items.
But it’s hard to overlook the fact that Amazon wasn’t able to light up clothing sales during a year that effectively froze, shuttered or otherwise hampered much of the retail competition.
As for beauty, another priority for Amazon, the company fared much better. According to Adobe Analytics, beauty products experienced a 62 percent boost during Prime Day 2020, and April just marked a period of strong growth, clocking in with a whopping 233 percent boost over early February numbers.
Of course, these are slices of an empire that does incredible business in general, and especially over Prime Day, across multiple categories.
Over the seven years it has been holding the sale, the tech company has managed to turn it into a mega shopping event of holiday-like proportions, Adobe noted. “The Prime Day event last year was able to generate almost a Cyber Monday’s worth of online spend — so those two days combined almost drove about as much as a Cyber Monday,” said Pandya.
The Adobe Digital Economy Index mapped out the numbers: U.S. online spending over both days of Prime Day last year raked in $5.2 billion a day, exceeding Thanksgiving’s $5.1 billion. Amazon sales fell short of Cyber Monday’s $10.9 billion, but Adobe expects this year’s edition, slated for June 21 and 22, to break that threshold this time around.
Performing at a high level again is “obviously very important for Amazon,” Pandya said, “but the sales and the days themselves are also able to have a huge impact across retailers of all sizes.”
Indeed, the event tends to spur competitors like Walmart, Target and other stores to launch their own promotions, stoking sales across the retail sector. Overall U.S. e-commerce growth in 2020 was 41 percent year-over-year. During Prime Day, it shot up 79 percent.
That halo effect could be even more massive this year and even help further accelerate online shopping trends. The report’s May 2021 data offers some context, but it needs a bit of parsing.
Adobe Analytics data pegs online spending in the U.S. that month at $73.5 billion, which amounts to an 11 percent year-over-year drop. But that was an unusual period with “high peaks” due to the pandemic, Pandya explained, so he went further back to better understand the e-commerce trajectory.
“When you compare against [May] 2019 and do a two-year comparison, we’re actually up 58 percent, in terms of online growth,” he added.
Monthly comparisons may seem similarly deceptive. March and April showed larger year-over-year growth of 74 and 70 percent, respectively, which outpaces May. However, these months were driven by stimulus payments. Given that, it’s notable that May retained most of the momentum without extra cash motivating consumers.
That’s not only impressive, but it bodes well for online shopping universally. As many experts predicted, a large proportion of consumers appear to rely more on e-commerce than ever before.
Obviously, that benefits the sector as a whole, including Amazon. And now, as it prepares for its next Prime Day, the expectations are sky-high — at least apart from apparel.