Adobe Data Shows Online Spending In May Exceeds Holiday Sales

Consumers spent $82.5 billion online in May -- up 77.8% year-over-year, according to data released Monday by Adobe.

Adobe Analytics Digital Economy Index analyzed one trillion online transactions across 100 million product SKUs. 

The data suggests online transactions were $52 billion higher than expected for the period, with e-commerce levels tracking higher than shopping holiday levels on Black Friday and Cyber Monday.   

Smartphone use continues to increase when it comes to making purchases. Consumers purchased 10% more products through smartphones in May vs. January.

The data shows online purchasing trends formed during the pandemic may become permanent. Consumers have had three months to “adjust to the new normal,” according to Taylor Schreiner, director of Adobe Digital Insights.

“While buy online, pick up in store was a niche delivery option pre-pandemic, it’s fast becoming the delivery method of choice as consumers become more familiar” with the ease and convenience it offers, Schreiner said.  



The Adobe survey, conducted between June 1 and June 3, 2020, estimates that 23% of online consumers prefer buying online and picking up in the store or curbside, rather than delivery. Adobe expects BOPIS to continue to gain traction even after stores re-open nationwide.

The states with the highest economic lift include Connecticut, New Mexico, Maine, Rhode Island, and New Hampshire. The lowest were Vermont, Iowa, Wyoming, Florida, and Hawaii.

Travel is showing the very first signs of recovery. Bookings of domestic flights nationwide have tripled between April 1 through April 7, and May 25 through 31, with prices down 28%. 

Southern states are bouncing back the fastest, with flights to and from the region booked at a higher volume than any other region as many of the states in this area were opening early. During the period when shelter-in-place measures were enacted, flight booking doubled as travelers lost confidence in their ability to take flights and go on holidays.

In May, the period between when a flight is booked and when it has been taken returned closer to the usual 45- to-50-day range, suggesting travelers are starting to feel confident their flight and holiday requests will be fulfilled. 

Memorial Day sales saw online retailers break the previous sales record of $2 billion for the day, reaching $3.5 billion.

Last year’s Memorial Day sales were 1.5 times above the average day in May vs. 1.3 times above this year, although discounts were 3% higher on average. 

All but five of the 18 product categories analyzed experienced a slight inflation in prices this month. The three categories that experienced deflation were high in terms of sales volume, resulting in relatively flat digital purchasing power.

The DPP of consumers rose 1.4% YoY, which means consumers can now purchase goods for $1.00 that would have cost $1.01 in May 2019. The U.S. CPI, which has historically shown more inflation than Adobe’s online-focused DEI, shows a slight YoY increase, with prices rising 1.2% YoY. 

While both reports are showing relatively flat inflation relative to last year, Adobe’s data projects inflation is on the horizon, closely matching the predictions of the CPI.

Electronics and apparel growth slowed, as groceries have declined. Consumer electronics and apparel purchases were up 11% and 12% respectively month-over-month, as shoppers searched for much-needed items to assist in working from home

Online grocery daily sales declined 14% as consumers returned to brick-and-mortar stores in reopened states or curtailed the early stockpiling experienced at the beginning of the COVID-pandemic. The data also shows grocery prices increased 4% YoY in May, 1.3% MoM. 

Nearly half of consumers, at 44%, purchased groceries online since March. Among those who purchased groceries online, 63% had purchased them before March.  

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