- Holiday shoppers in 2021 spent $1.14 trillion online worldwide and $257 billion in the U.S., allowing retailers to break new sales records, according to Salesforce's 2021 Holiday Shopping Report emailed to Retail Dive.
- Salesforce's report, which studied data from more than one billion consumers, credits early November and late December surges for the digital sales growth in 2021. Cyber Week, on the other hand, saw "muted digital growth," accounting for 23% of global sales — a decrease from 24% the year before.
- Luxury handbags was the category that had the highest annual online sales growth with an increase of 45%. The result is a reflection of consumers buying more items they want rather than need, the report found. Online sales for home furniture grew 34% while general footwear grew 32%.
The results of the report were driven by several trends, including early holiday shoppers, social commerce and flexible payment options.
Because consumers wanted to avoid supply chain issues and stockouts, 30% of holiday sales worldwide were completed by Nov. 22. Retailers that offered curbside or in-store pickup claimed 62% of final global sales.
Social commerce's role in consumers' purchasing journey is becoming more relevant. During the holiday, 4% of global online sales via mobile devices were completed through a social media app, with 10% of mobile traffic coming from social media users. By 2023, another report from Salesforce estimates that 25% of shopping will occur outside a retailer or brand's website, app or brick-and-mortar location.
Inflation also persisted alongside holiday shopping. Prices in the U.S. were up 25% year over year. Consumers leaned on buy now, pay later services amid price hikes and fewer discounts with usage over the holidays up 40% annually.
But despite inflation, shipping delays and the new COVID-19 variant, online sales still rose from 2020 numbers. Consumers spent $1.1 trillion online globally and $236 billion in the U.S. back in 2020.
"Despite the lingering pandemic and countless obstacles such as supply chain logistics, low inventory, and fewer discounts, consumers flocked online to close out this holiday shopping season with a bang," said Rob Garf, vice president and general manager of Retail at Salesforce. "As we move into a new year, retailers must push their brands to platforms such as social, gaming, messaging, and the metaverse to engage shoppers where they are discovering and buying products. They must also double down on efforts to reimagine physical stores to support continually changing digital experiences."
Even in an increasingly digital environment, brick-and-mortar stores continue to play an important part this holiday. From generating to fulfilling demand, physical stores influenced 60% of global digital sales during the period.