Trillion-Dollar Baby: Ecommerce Sales Will Hit That Total This Year, Adobe Predicts

Email teams feeling frustrated with their jobs should reflect on this: They are part of a much bigger picture — a $1 trillion picture, to be exact. 

That’s the sum Adobe expects U.S. consumers to spend online this year. 

Moreover, Adobe estimates that shoppers spent $1.7 trillion online in the two years from March 2020 through February 2022 — a $609 billion increase over 2018 and 2019 combined. And they shelled out $885 billion online last year, aa 8.9% burst YoY. 

Email, both promotional and triggered, clearly contributed to these totals.

Admit it -- don’t you feel a sense of pride?

There’s only one problem: $32 billion of it was driven by online inflation. And higher prices will contribute $27 billion to the 2022 total, Adobe says. 

This inflation has persisted for 21 consecutive months. Last year, it contributed $22 billion to e-commerce growth, versus $4.7 billion in 2020.  



Inflation has not deterred demand, however: consumers spent $138 billion online in the first months alone -- a 13.8% surge YoY. But of this total, $3.8 billion was driven by higher prices. 

That said, consumers received 60 billion out-of-stock (OOS) messages from March 2020 to February 2022 as supply-chain problems surged. The odds of seeing an OSS message are 1 in 59 pages, compared to 1 in 200 pages before the pandemic — a 235% increase.  

In the last four months alone, shoppers have seen over 12 billion OOS messages. 

Meanwhile, here is some intelligence on individual product categories. How is yours doing? 

The grocery sector was the big winner as many consumers were feeling trapped in their homes shopped online for the first time. A total of $79.2 billion was spent in 2021 — a 7.2 increase YoY. And the $73.7 billion total spent in 2020 was 103% more than the prior year.

“E-commerce is being reshaped by grocery shopping, a category with minimal discounting compared to legacy categories like electronics and apparel,” said Patrick Brown, vice president of growth marketing and insights, Adobe. “It highlights a shift in the digital economy, where speed and convenience are becoming just as important as cost savings.” 

In contrast, electronics spending grew by 8% in 2021, for a total of $165 billion. This represented an 18.6 share of total ecommerce — down from 18.8% in 2020 and 21% in 2019. 

But electronics remains the top online category, contributing $13.6 billion per month — a $9.9 billion boost over the pre-pandemic period.

And Adobe predicts sales will exceed $174 billion this year. In 2020, the spend totaled $152.7 billion — up 26.8% over 2019. e-commerce overall grew by 41% YoY.

The only sluggish vertical was apparel, where demand slumped as consumers remained at home. In 2020, apparel grew by only 9.1% YoY to $115.8 billion and by 8% in 2021 to $126 billion. The category generated a 14.3% share of total ecommerce — down 18.5 from 2018 and flat with the 14.2% seen in 2020.  

Showing how things have changed, in 2019, apparel was only $14.4 billion behind electronics — but that gap widened to $38.8 billion in 2021. 

On the positive side, people are spending an average of $10.2 billion per month — up from $8.7 billion before the COVID-19 pandemic. And Adobe expects the category to top $130 billion in 2022. 

Adobe also reports these findings: 

Buy Now, Pay Later (BNPL) growth has slowed even while demand has remained strong: BNPL orders grew by 53% and revenue increased by 56% in January and February. But that doesn’t come close to the massive 528% growth in orders recorded between October and November 2020 and the 412% surge in revenue. 

The Adobe Digital Economy Index covers over one trillion visits to U.S. retail sites and over 100 million SKUs in 18 product categories. The Adobe Digital Price Index uses the Fisher Price Index to track online prices. 


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