Giving Back: So-So Holiday Sales Offset By Big Jump In Returns

Holiday returns rose by 63% to total 13% of all online orders, according to an analysis by Salesforce. And the six days after Christmas saw a peak of 16% of all purchases returned. But the total number for the season — 1.39 billion — was less than the 1.4 billion forecast. 

November’s online sales were lower than those of 2021 and 2020. But discounts and Buy Online and Pick up In Store (BOPIS) helped retailers find success, Salesforce says.

Nearly one out of every five online orders placed globally this holiday season were via BOPIS. And BOPIS adoption by consumers peaked at 35% of all orders on the Friday before the Christmas holiday as shoppers raced to retrieve last-minute gifts after the ground shipping window closed on Dec. 15. 

After that date, brands that offered BOPIS grew their revenue by nearly 7X, Salesforce reports.

When the ground shipping window closed on December 15, U.S. companies that offered BOPIS grew their revenue nearly 7X faster than those without this fulfillment option.



Discounts also abounded,, averaging 21% later in the season versus 19% in 2021. The biggest average discount — 29% — was seen in the beauty, skincare and makeup category. Next was general apparel and handbags, at 27%. 

Social media referrals hit an all-time high this past holiday season, driving 12% of all mobile traffic — a 23% increase YoY. The most social media-oriented shoppers were found in Belgium, Italy and the United States.

Consumers spent $270 billion online in the U.S. during the season, and $114 trillion globally. 

“Retailers closed out the 2022 holiday season with stronger online sales growth than expected–driven in large part by U.S. demand, steeper discounts on peak days, and BOPIS options,” concludes Rob Garf, vice president & general manager of retail, Salesforce. “Staggering return numbers show that consumers are still cautious amid economic uncertainty, however.”

Looking into 2023, Garf adds that “retailers must double down on efforts to put the customer at the center of their business with data-driven personalization and efficient operations in areas such as fulfillment, service, and returns.” 

Salesforce analyzed November and December shopping data from over 1.5 billion shoppers on retail sites using Salesforce Customer 360. Overall, Salesforce Commerce Cloud powered more than 220 million online orders, and Salesforce Einstein served over 10 billion personalized recommendations. 


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