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U.S. E-commerce growth slows as stores reopen: Adobe

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Vivek Pandya, Adobe Digital Insights Lead Analyst, joins Yahoo Finance's Akiko Fujita to discuss the latest data from the Adobe Digital Economy Index and how E-commerce is performing amid the coronavirus pandemic.

Video Transcript

AKIKO FUJITA: But a new report out from Adobe finds that momentum may be starting to slow a little. Vivek Pandya is a Lead Analyst with Adobe Digital Insights, and he just joins us from Oakland today. Vivek, it's good to have you on today. We should point out we're talking about a slowdown in growth momentum. But still, online sales were up 42% year on year in August, so that's still significant growth. I'm wondering though when you compare that to July, a 10% drop, how much slowdown has to do with the stores reopening? How much of that is about consumers maybe souring a little on the online experience?

VIVEK PANDYA: I think it's a myriad of factors that we've been seeing emerge both through our surveys and our data through Adobe Analytics. And what's been especially interesting to see is yes, things have been opening up and consumers are a little more comfortable going back into stores, but we're also looking at things like buy online, pickup in store, which is consumers being able to purchase online and get that good or product as quickly as possible, and that has seen still pretty sizable growth at 59% month over month and 259% year over year. So I would say it's that myriad of factors of that growth drawing down was expected as stores were opening up, but the idea of consumers kind of minding and driving towards essentials is also happening, and, you know, wanting to focus more on things that they really need as necessities and kind of pare down things that they can do out for a little bit longer.

AKIKO FUJITA: Buy online and pick up in store, you talked about the growth there, how much of that is about just sort of fresh foods, groceries, or how much of that is about apparel? Because we've seen increasingly a lot of brands push for that during this time, and they found a lot of success.

VIVEK PANDYA: I would say that it's a combination of categories that are seeing boost from OPUS. Apparel is an industry that we've charted kind of drawing down faster than overall online sales, so that particular category is at 21% year over year, which would be fine in any other type of year, but it would be great in any other type of year. But because it's COVID impacted, it's something that we've definitely kept an eye on as being an area that we want to see improve going into the holiday season.

The other space with groceries is very pronounced, because people are purchasing groceries online, some for the first time ever because of COVID, and they're seeing that there are multiple factors that will help them get these goods in a frequent cadence and in a small time period. So instead of waiting and having to wait maybe a week or so for delivery for them, they can drive to the store, get what they need, and kind of move that very quickly back to their homes.

AKIKO FUJITA: You've got some interesting numbers on travel that I think maybe speaks to the psyche of what people are thinking of or what people are comfortable with right now. Domestic flight bookings down 58% year on year, but you've got hotel bookings down 20%. Not as bad, which suggests people are a little more comfortable staying in hotels as well. When you look ahead to the next few months or so, are you starting to see travelers think about flying a little more and maybe starting to plan out that next holiday? Is that where we are?

VIVEK PANDYA: Certainly. I would say that there's a real desire to get out and about travel, but there is a lot of caution and a lot of deliberation before people made their decisions. We saw about a 60% increase in bookings in the two week period running up to Labor Day, which was a lot higher than the 45% we saw last year. And the 20% being down for hotels, obviously, we'd want hotels to still be where, you know, where they were last year or higher, but the fact that they were only 20% down when we have everything that we're dealing with is, I think, promising to see for the hotel industry. And then as I said for the flights, it's very much consumers looking to see how different trends emerge as they book their planning and then if they feel comfortable enough, you know, making those bookings and solidifying their reservation.

AKIKO FUJITA: How much of that is actually air travel, though? Are we still going to be seeing people take road trips, or are actually people looking about flying further distances?

VIVEK PANDYA: Yeah, I would say there is far more appetite for hotels and road trips. About three in four consumers are much more accepting and feel like there's a greater opportunity in doing a road trip and making that work out for them. So I would say that hotels have had a much better go of it for travel, and then flights will especially be dependent on how trends change closer to the booking time period.

AKIKO FUJITA: And finally, Vivek, when you think about where we were before the pandemic, there was so much talk about moving towards mobile, that more and more shopping was happening on mobile. Now, you've got a six month period where people are stuck at home. They can use their laptops. They can use their desktops. Have you continue to see that shift to mobile accelerate, or has that slowed down as well?

VIVEK PANDYA: That's been a great surprise for us is that even though we've become less mobile, it hasn't changed trends in terms of online shopping. In fact, mobile is continuing to surge during the pandemic, and we saw about 40% of sales, online sales, run through mobile devices. So I think that really speaks to just consumers and how we're a very mobile first culture and also retailers being able to make sure that they can provide experiences that make it so that people can do the entire transaction through mobile and aren't just surfing around on desktops or surfing around on mobile phones and then closing the deal on desktops.