Online Sales on Cyber Monday Dropped for the First Time in History in 2021

Though Cyber Monday sales were down, overall sales for the 2021 shopping season are poised to reach record levels.


On this year’s Cyber Monday, consumers spent 1.4 percent less than they did in 2020. In all, consumers spent a total of $10.7 billion, and it was the first time in history that Americans spent less than previously logged. Cyber Monday is typically one of the biggest shopping days of the year.

But Adobe Analytics, who compiled the data, said that it anticipates that the holiday season as a whole will have record-breaking e-commerce spending. Adobe believes that consumers will just spread out their spending over more days in 2021.

Thus far, from November 1 to Cyber Monday, American consumers have spent 11.9 percent more than last year online, to the tune of $109.8 billion. Adobe believes digital holiday sales through December 31 will reach 207 billion. If the milestone is met, it would represent an increase of 10 percent, which would be record growth.

Thanksgiving Day and Black Friday shopping days also saw slower sales, but again, shoppers don’t seem as committed to doing all their shopping during Cyber Week. They’re spreading it out, and Americans are continuing to stay at home and avoid the crowds because of the pandemic. And, some retailers have encouraged that as well as early shopping. Amazon has been promoting deals akin to Black Friday specials since October.

Adobe’s director of Digital Insights, Taylor Schreiner, said, “With early deals in October, consumers were not waiting around for discounts on big shopping days like Cyber Monday and Black Friday.”

This year’s Black Friday saw $8.9 billion in e-commerce sales. It marked a slight decrease from 2020’s Black Friday, which saw closer to $9 billion in sales.

Overall, brick-and-mortar stores have seen fewer consumers on major holiday shopping days than those seen before the pandemic. Some major retailers, such as Target and Walmart, decided to close their doors on Thanksgiving.

Bottlenecks in the supply chain have also led some consumers to start their holiday shopping early as fears of out-of-stock merchandise increase.

Adobe reported that out-of-stock messaging increased by 8 percent on Cyber Monday compared to the week before. November has seen a rise of 169 percent for out-of-stock notifications on retail websites compared to before the pandemic. According to Adobe, shoppers are also discovering that their items are out of stock at an increase of 258 percent more than they did two years ago.

Retailers have also been less inclined to offer big discounts. This year’s Cyber Monday saw discounts on electronics at 12 percent compared to last year’s 27 percent price reductions. Clothing saw 20 percent markdowns in 2020, and this year, discounts reached 18 percent. Appliances saw more modest discounts at around 8 percent during 2021’s holiday season. In 2020, appliances saw discounts as high as 20 percent. Inflation is prompting many businesses to be more conservative about passing on discounts.

But, the National Retail Federation expects sales in November and December to see record increases overall, to between 8.5 percent and 10.5 percent compared to last year. The NRF said the past five years had averaged an increase of 4.4 percent.

Matt Shay, NRF’s CEO, said that while the dynamics are unusual this holiday season, the year will likely end well for retailers. Shay said, “We expect a bright, successful, and joyous holiday season, and we believe we’re on track to do that.”



Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here