Reports citing analytics data indicate that this week’s Cyber Monday holiday sales have again reinforced the biggest online shopping event of the year. However, depending on which data is assessed, sales volumes were muted and have likely fell short of prior expectations.

They reinforce that the Black Friday and Cyber Monday shopping holidays have become lower in relevance to overall holiday fulfillment quarter business performance.


Initial 2021 Cyber Monday Holiday Results

Bloomberg and other industry media cite data from Adobe Analytics indicating that U.S. shoppers spent $10.7 billion on Cyber Monday. That was less than the $10.8 billion spent during the 2020 period.

The Wall Street Journal cited data compiled from indicating that online shoppers spent $11.3 billion on Cyber Monday sales, up 3 percent from last year’s levels.

Obviously, analytics data is different in terms of base assumptions.

Adobe indicated that merchandise discounts were weak compared to last year. As an example, consumer electronics products reflected an average discount of upwards of 12 percent, compared with 27 percent in the 2020 period.


Data Reflecting Combined Thanksgiving, Black Friday and Cyber Monday Activity

The Wall Street Journal cited data from the National Retail Federation (NRF) indicating that upwards of 180 million consumers shopped online or in-store between this year’s Thanksgiving, Black Friday, and Monday’s Cyber Monday shopping events. That compares to the 186.4 million shoppers noted during these same events last year, and 189.6 million reported for 2019.

NRF data further indicated that roughly 104.9 million shoppers visited physical stores over this past weekend, which was up from the 92.3 million reported in 2020. Keep in mind that store visits to not directly correlate with purchases, especially in a year with so many items are either more expensive or out-of-stock. The data indicated that average selling prices were up 11 percent this year.

Data relative to holiday weekend sales was conflicting. Mastercard SpendingPlus indicated that U.S. retail sales rose 14 percent during the recent Thanksgiving holiday weekend compared to 2020, and 5.8 percent in 2019.

Data from the Adobe Digital Economy Index indicated that U.S. shoppers spent upwards of $339.9 billion in online purchases during these same three traditionally active shopping holidays, which reflects a 1.4 percent decline from last year’s dollar volumes.

This data does seems to reinforce that consumers may have begun their holiday shopping prior to the Thanksgiving holiday. Bloomberg noted that U.S. online spending from the start of November thru November 28 rose 13.6 percent on a year-over-year basis to $99.1 billion. Adobe is indicating that total online spending for November and December combined is reportedly expected o reach $207 billion. That would imply a very hefty period of online sales yet to come during December.


Supply Chain Matters Added Perspectives

With these initial sales and volume data indications, retail sales and operations planning, as well as supply chain customer fulfillment teams will have some pause, in order to assess where business milestones stand at this point.

With roughly 20 to 22 days of consumer shopping still to come, precision inventory management and any deemed added promotional activities will be key to meeting expected revenue and profitability outcomes. As Supply Chain Matters opined in late August, entering this holiday quarter there existed uncertainties as to which buying channels consumers will rely on in buying activities. For retailers who invested in planning and inventory management processes that integrate customer fulfillment inventory needs across multiple online, direct ship or physical store channels, such investments will prove instrumental in meeting consumer demand regardless of channel.

There is still the reality that inventory remains stacked up among U.S. ports and inter-modal transit facilities. While there are indications that some ports are making process in processing containers, around the clock operations are now essential in order to make in-transit goods available for sale.

A critical consideration at this point is the risk of having inventory surplus either at the end of year when financial accounts are closed out, or in the early part of 2022 when in-transit inventories finally reach their warehouse destinations. All of this will depend on the actual sales numbers that retailers and wholesalers experience for all of this holiday fulfillment quarter. We would not be surprised if some retailers become more selective in added discounting during December in order to move inventory.

The bottom line is that concurrent planning and synchronized execution remain essential in the coming days of December.


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