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Retail: Global digital sales top $1 trillion during 2021 holidays

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Yahoo Finance’s Brad Smith discusses how consumers went shopping during the 2021 holiday season with global digital sales topping $1 trillion.

Video transcript

JULIE HYMAN: And in terms of those prices going up, that's one of the reasons why we saw holiday sales rise to such an extent that we did. A sales force out with new data on that front today, but it's also because people were spending more, not just because the prices were higher. Our Brad Smith is here with the latest numbers there. So what are we hearing from Salesforce, Brad?

BRADLEY SMITH: Hey, Julie. Yeah. Salesforce holiday digital sales data on this front, early November and late December, boosted and helped retailers to new sales records according to new data published by Salesforce, as we mentioned. So consumers spent $1.14 trillion online globally and $257 billion in the US. You compare that to $1.1 trillion and $236 billion respectively in 2020.

And so, even considering price inflationary pressures that we've been monitoring, it largely seems that consumers still channel the eye of the Tiger as shown with some of these digital shopping totals. And I've had the chance to review these findings, which I'd like to briefly summarize in the form of when we shopped, how people paid, what we shopped for, and where the total retail Omniverse, where within that we purchased.

So on when we shopped front cyber week that accounted for 23% of global sales, that was down from 24% in 2020. Consumers missed online shopping cutoff dates and concerns grew around some of the COVID-19 variants. We saw 23% of global digital sales placed between December 18 and December 31 for when we shopped. And stores that offered some of those curbside or buy online pickup in store, Beau Pitts if you will, over the same period captured 62% of those global sales.

Now, for the how people transacted or paid. Within the Salesforce data, US prices were seen to be up 25% year-over-year, which further highlights the inflationary environment consumers were wading through during the holidays. And if you feel like the discounts were tougher to find this holiday season, you're not wrong. That was down 10% year-over-year on that discount front.

And on the fast growing use of buy-now-pay-later, BNPL services. In the US during the holiday season, this form of transaction service, it actually increased 40% over 2020. And on the digital wallet payment front, those methods, such as PayPal, Apple Pay, Google Pay, they also increased by 15% year-over-year in the US.

And in terms of what we shopped for, luxury handbags, home furniture, fastest growing categories online, highest year-over-year growth in handbags, specifically 45% online sales increased there. Home furniture and general footwear, that's what trailed closely behind. So, perhaps, Brian Cheung, as you were seeing some of those sneakers behind him, perhaps he was encapsulated within that sneaker category as well. 34% and 32% growth respectively for home furniture and general footwear.

And then just lastly here on the Salesforce data front, where we increasingly shopped. Social commerce, it continues to influence consumer-buying behavior. 2021 holiday season saw 4% of global digital sales on a mobile device made through a social media app, and 10% of mobile traffic originating from consumers browsing through some of their social networks. And so, that is some of what the data encapsulated as we kind of review what took place during this most recent holiday season and understand where some of these trends might persist in the future.

BRIAN SOZZI: Yeah, Brad. Inflation is no issue to our very own Brian Cheung. He has a big wallet and he will buy those sneakers. But it's been an interesting week for retail. I mean, a lot of mixed reads. Lululemon with a weak read on traffic. Abercrombie & Fitch, good report. You know what? By and large, it looks like consumers are handling this inflation pretty well.

BRADLEY SMITH: It does. And I think as of right now from what we've seen in the mix and that Omniverse, that retail Omniverse that I was mentioning a moment ago, it really also comes down to how well some of these companies had even prior to the holiday season and pre-pandemic, quite frankly, invested in their digital infrastructure to allow for their digital engagement points and serving up the right product at the right time, understanding what type of inventory they also had to support that, and then making sure that those channels were all connected.

As we were speaking about how many people were taking advantage of buy-online-pickup-in-store, BOPIS, or even after the holiday season, something that's going to be interesting to track even as we get some of the actual investor relations, updates, and the additional earnings reports that are set to come from retail in the coming weeks and months. It's going to be interesting to see how much the buy online return in store also triggered add on sales for some of those companies that have that annexation and the footprint brick-and-mortar-wise, but also are seeing so much of their purchases come in from online touchpoints with their consumers too.

JULIE HYMAN: Yeah, I've definitely done a little bit of buy-online-return-instore. And Brad, by the way, I bet you did your part on the sneaker-buying front as well, I suspect in the holiday season or in 2021.

BRADLEY SMITH: I did.

JULIE HYMAN: That's what I thought. All right, our Brad Smith. Thanks so much.

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