According to Adobe, out-of-stock notifications have risen 250% since January 2020 and are up 325% compared to the 2019 holiday season. Overall, consumers have seen a whopping 2 billion out-of-stock messages, with electronics being the leading category for out-of-stock products.
Although product unavailability is negative for both consumers and companies, there may be a silver lining. Taylor Schriener, Director of Global Insights at Adobe shared that, “With over 2 billion out-of-stock messages last month [October 2021], consumers are beginning to understand the real impact of the supply chain challenges. Some have begun to adjust their holiday strategy accordingly, with parents shopping for toys earlier and some settling for gift cards this season.”
Consumers have, for the most part, taken the ‘hint’ from businesses and have started their holiday shopping earlier. Cyber Week has also evolved into more of a Cyber Month as companies offered sales early in hopes to curb mass shopping towards the end of November, and consequently there was an 8% increase in consumer spending during the month of October from 2020. Online spending on Black Friday this year was actually slightly less than last year because of early shoppers and in-store purchases increasing from last year. Overall spending for the holiday season will still top last year, but we are seeing consumer spending more evenly distributed throughout the holiday season than years past.
Although this shift in consumers’ habits is a small dent in a much larger supply chain issue, the win for businesses is that consumers are planning their purchases ahead. Shoppers who two years ago likely rarely had a second thought about supply chain or port congestion now see news headlines and emails about such topics daily, and they are taking action.
According to Statista, “between November 1 and November 29, U.S. consumers spent $109.8 billion online, which is an 11.9 percent increase over last year’s total for the same period. Remarkably, 22 days have exceeded $3 billion in online sales this November, up from just 9 days in November 2020 and further proof of shoppers spending their holiday cash more evenly this year.”
It is good news for businesses that the spending is there and that consumers are listening when they are encouraged to shop early. Now though, it is crucial for shippers to be able to have inventory in stock and subsequently have beneficial carrier relationships that facilitate the distribution of their product in a timely and cost-effective way.
As for the rest of the holiday season, Jack Kleinhenz, Chief Economist at the National Retail Federation notes that, “the outlook for the holiday season looks very bright. The unusual and beneficial position we find ourselves in is that households have increased spending vigorously throughout most of 2021 and remain with plenty of holiday purchasing power.”
If done right, e-commerce and retail businesses can look forward to a continued prosperous holiday season and a bright start to 2022.