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Discounts drive record online spending as holiday shopping season gets off to a roaring start

Shoppers found websites offering as much as 34% off toys, 25% off electronics and 18% off apparel.
Workers sort packages at a FedEx Express facility on Cyber Monday in Garden City, N.Y., on Nov. 28, 2022.
Workers sort packages at a FedEx facility in Garden City, N.Y., on Cyber Monday, Nov. 28.Michael Nagle / Bloomberg via Getty Images

Consumers took advantage of heavy discounting by online retailers to start up the holiday shopping season in high gear.

According to Adobe Analytics, record online spending on Thanksgiving and Black Friday drove Cyber Week — Thanksgiving through Cyber Monday — to $35 billion in total sales, itself a record and up 4% from last year.

The numbers were driven by discounts across categories, with peak deals of 34% off the prices of toys, 25% off electronics like computers and TVs and 18% off apparel.

“With oversupply and a softening consumer spending environment, retailers made the right call this season to drive demand through heavy discounting,” Vivek Pandya, a lead analyst at Adobe Digital Insights, said in a statement. “It spurred online spending to levels that were higher than expected, and reinforced e-commerce as a major channel to drive volume and capture consumer interest.” 

Top-selling toys included Pokémon cards, Legos, Hot Wheels, Disney's “Encanto”-branded merchandise, LOL Surprise dolls, Cocomelon and Hatchimals, Adobe Analytics said.

Top gaming consoles included PlayStation 5, Nintendo Switch and Xbox Series X, while top games included FIFA 23, God of War Ragnarök, Madden 23, NBA 2K23 and Pokémon Scarlet & Violet.

Smart TVs, Apple AirPods and MacBooks, tablets, smartwatches, instant pots and air fryers were among the top-selling electronics. 

And in apparel, best-sellers included sweaters, jackets, shirts, hoodies, vests, boots, robes, pajamas and underwear and hosiery.

The e-commerce group Shopify also recorded a record weekend from Black Friday to Cyber Monday, with sales of $7.5 billion from independent businesses worldwide — a 19% year-on-year increase.

Even with inflation looming in the background, consumers were motivated by the hunt for deals, Adobe Analytics said. The company's figures are not adjusted for inflation, but even if online inflation were factored in, there would still be growth in underlying consumer demand, it said. The story has been the same throughout the year, despite higher prices. Consumers have shown their willingness to keep shopping, thanks in part to the resilience of their pandemic savings.

"There’s certainly a recognition and concern about prices and inflation, and yet people are still out spending," said Matt Shay, the president and CEO of the National Retail Federation.

E-commerce is expected to make up roughly 1 of every 5 dollars spent on retail goods this season, with purchases made via mobile devices now accounting for half of online sales this season, Adobe Analytics said.

Overall, a record 196.7 million people shopped in U.S. stores and online during the five-day holiday shopping period from Thanksgiving Day through Cyber Monday, according to an annual survey released Tuesday by the National Retail Federation and Prosper Insights & Analytics.