Online spending by U.S. consumers surpassed $100 billion for the first time during the first quarter of this year, representing a 14.1% increase over the same period last year, according to Adobe's new Digital Dollar report.
The amount of money consumers spend while shopping via mobile devices is now about one-third the amount spent via desktop online shopping, and the former eventually will overtake the latter, according to the report. Mobile shopping spending was about one-fifth the desktop figure in 2014.
The report also pointed to evidence that consumers timed their spending around first quarter holidays, such as Presidents Day, and the store sales promotions related to those holidays. That in turn suggests, according to Adobe, the upcoming Memorial Day holiday weekend represents an "especially huge opportunity for retailers to grab consumers' attention."
The first quarter of any year is usually a time for hangovers, and a bit of sadness that the party has ended. Online retailers are typically no exception. Yet, the first quarter of 2018 challenged that notion.
Mobile shopping is doing its part. Although actual mobile shopping visits are not increasing rapidly, the amount of money shoppers are spending is. "The main takeaway for retailers is that, while visits from smartphones are increasing slowly, consumers are quickly becoming more comfortable making significant purchases with their phones," Taylor Schreiner, director, Adobe Digital Insights, said in a company blog post. "This means there's a real opportunity to win over customers through great mobile experiences."
Better deals online also could be playing a big role. Elsewhere in Adobe's report, it suggested that based on historical information from its Digital Price Index, price deflation is affecting online sellers more quickly than it is brick-and-mortar stores.
"We think there are two major factors driving the trend," Schreiner said of online price deflation. "One, it's easier and quicker for retailers to adjust their online offerings. Two, we know that consumers take the time to compare products online, so online retailers must react quickly to fierce price competition. The result is a growing divide between the online and offline economies."
Then, there's the holiday effect. Out of that big first quarter, more spending appears to be happening timed to the first quarter holidays of Martin Luther King Day and Presidents Day, with somewhat lower spending in the days before each holiday as customers prepare to take advantage of sales, Adobe said. Those sales led to more buying activity, but also greater consumer savings.
The trend is leading Adobe to predict that Memorial Day is going to be the biggest revenue shopping day in the second quarter, perhaps as much as 19% higher than last year.