Inflation Spiral Goes Viral: Online Prices Surge, But Discounts Help

Inflation is raging online, as in other parts of the economy. And email marketers have to contend with it. 

Online prices grew by 3.5% in November YOY, according to a new report from Adobe.

This marks the largest hike seen since Adobe began tracking the digital economy in 2014, and it marks the 18th consecutive month of online inflation, the company reports. 

Still, that hike is lower that the 6.8% projected to be reported tomorrow for the economy as a whole -- the highest increase since the Reagan era, according to Bloomberg. 

Here’s where email teams may be proving their mettle: Prices fell by 2% in November month-over-month (MoM) due to holiday discounts.  

Compare the inflationary impact in these product categories:

- Apparel costs are up 17.3% YoY, but have declined by 0.4% MoM. 

- Grocery prices rose by 3.9% YoY, and were up by 0.6% MoM.

- Electronics prices fell by 0.04% YoY, and by 4.0% MoM. 



- Appliances prices are up 4% YoY and down 2.7% MoM. 

- Toys fell by 2.9% YoY and by 3.6% MoM. 

What’s causing the online inflation, where it exists?

“Ongoing supply chain constraints and durable consumer demand have underpinned the record high inflation in e-commerce, with apparel seeing high volumes of out-of-stock messages online compared to other categories,” says Patrick Brown, vice president of growth marketing and insights, Adobe. 

With “offline prices surging in the Consumer Price Index, however, it is still cheaper to shop online for categories such as toys, computers and sporting goods,” Brown adds.

Discounts can be featured in both promotional and triggered emails as long as there are clear calls to action.    

On November 30, Adobe reported that consumers had spent $109.billion online during this season -- an 11.9% leap over 2020. But sales were flat on Black Monday, largely because spending was spread over the month of November and even in the month before. 

“With early deals in October, consumers were not waiting around for discounts on big shopping days like Cyber Monday and Black Friday,” says Taylor Schreiner, director, Adobe Digital Insights. 

Where does this leave ecommerce?

“Census Bureau data shows that the e-commerce share of non-fuel retail spending has tripled over the last decade as more expenditures like groceries and home improvement move online,” states economist Marshall Reinsdorf, former senior economist at International Monetary Fund, according to Adobe. 

The Adobe Digital Price Index covers more than 100 million products in the U.S. and is modeled after the Consumer Price Index issued by the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics.


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