Holiday shoppers this year are forecast to spend $1 of every $4 this season buying things online, as ecommerce continues its relentless growth. Yet the really deep discounts often available in previous years are likely to be harder to track down, according to new research from Adobe.
Products sold online have been affected by inflation, just like goods sold at brick-and-mortar locations like gas at the pump and groceries, Adobe said on Thursday. That’s a reversal from how things were before the COVID-19 pandemic, when many online goods got cheaper year after year.
Ahead of this year’s crucial holiday season, by contrast, online prices rose 1.9% in October, Adobe found. To be sure, that’s a far cry from the 6.2% overall inflation rate last month, which measures goods ranging from heating oil to apparel. Yet it signals that consumers may not see the doorbusting savings they enjoyed prior to the health crisis when clicking “buy,” Adobe said.
“Your Black Friday items will be more expensive than they were a year ago,” said Taylor Schreiner, director of Adobe Digital Insights. “Which isn’t to say you shouldn’t buy on Black Friday or Cyber Monday — these are still the cheapest days.”
But, he added, consumers should expect discounts to be 5% to 10% weaker than a year ago. “Prices online haven’t ever been up until the start of COVID,” Schreiner noted.
Some of the products most affected by inflation — gasoline and heating fuel, for instance — aren’t typically bought online, which explains why online inflation is lower than inflation overall. But given higher prices this year, online shoppers may need to strategize when making holiday purchases, he said.
Best discounts: Toys, computers
The steepest online sales are likely to be found on toys and computers, according to Adobe.
Toy prices decreased 2.7% in October, the software maker found. That’s likely because merchants are discounting toys that are currently in stock to make room for holiday shipments, Schreiner said. But toy experts have warned that some popular items may not make it to shelves on time for the holidays given ongoing supply-chain delays.
“You might have trouble finding some hot toys, or it might not be stocked,” he added.
Meanwhile, computer prices are down almost 5% from a year earlier. Retailers such as Best Buy and Walmart are offering deals on computers for Black Friday later this month. ou may also be able to score deals ahead of next week’s Thanksgiving holiday.
But many other categories have “challenges,” Schreiner said. For instance, apparel prices jumped almost 10% last month, likely due to supply-chain snags and items being out of stock, which pushes up demand from consumers.
Schreiner’s advice to shoppers: Consider your timing and prioritization.
“Things that you need, you might want to pay more for now because of the supply-chain issue,” he said. “On things you don’t need, maybe wait. There will be a wave of stuff that shows up later than retailers would like to see it” — after the holidays.
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