By Scott Wallask
Social distancing and crowd avoidance have made online shopping more convenient and appealing than ever — and that will likely mean all-time highs for internet spending during the U.S. holiday season.
Sellers have responded strongly to consumer trends this year with more eCommerce options, including thousands of new companies coming online to offer their products since the pandemic started. The restaurant and business conference industries offer good examples of companies switching to digital commerce and staying innovative during the pandemic.
The amount of businesses that added eCommerce shopping carts to their sites per month — a reliable indicator of online purchasing potential — jumped 32% when comparing periods before and after the pandemic sucker-punched the economy, according to data from ZoomInfo.
In fact, 56% more companies added online shopping carts in August 2020 compared to February 2020. Boiled down, that means for every two companies in February that added a shopping cart, three new companies provided a cart in August.
Overall holiday spending may decline, but eCommerce will pick up
These numbers likely point to record-breaking online purchases in the U.S. as consumers prepare for the holiday shopping spectacles of Black Friday and Cyber Monday.
COVID-19’s influence will be felt as shoppers shy away from stores and instead click more for their gift-giving. According to Deloitte and the National Retail Federation, overall spending in November and December 2020, which includes in-person shopping and online purchases, is predicted to decline from prior years.
However, eCommerce during the holidays is expected to see a significant boost, according to Adobe’s report, “Unboxing 2020’s Holiday Shopping Forecast.”
“The online holiday season is forecast to break all its past growth records and grow 33% [year over year] to $189 billion,” Adobe’s wrote.
Singles’ Day portends the coming online rush
Internationally, there is also recent precedent to suggest strong performance from eCommerce during the U.S. holiday rush.
If you’ve never heard of Singles’ Day, maybe this number will get your attention: $74.1 billion in sales on Alibaba’s retail website.
That’s the amount of purchases people made during this largely China-based holiday, which recognizes people who aren’t in romantic relationships and encourages them to spend on themselves. It typically takes place on November 11 each year, although in 2020, the event was extended to 11 days in reaction to the pandemic.
The total was up 26% from 2019 figures for the same time period, according to Alibaba.
What is increasingly clear even before Black Friday and Cyber Monday engulf shoppers is that merchants have been preparing for the frenzy. The pandemic, combined with an increase in online shopping cart technology availability, has laid the groundwork for a memorable eCommerce holiday season — one that may come at the expense of in-person shopping as brick-and-mortar stores deal with restrictions or even shutdowns.
For those consumers who preferred to browse in person for holiday gifts in their neighborhood stores, there’s a good chance those businesses have started selling online as well in recent months. Shopping local can continue…on the web.
Scott Wallask is a longtime content writer; seeking stories flowing from data with a dash of skepticism; Northeastern grad
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