What’s happening today: The election and online spending

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What’s happening today: The election and online spending


As Americans anxiously await clarity regarding final voting counts and results of yesterday’s election, a new report found 26% of US consumers correlate who will win with how much they’ll spend.

Image: iStock/BackyardProduction

The holiday season is upon us. Pandemic-ween (Halloween during the pandemic) has come and gone and traditional Thanksgiving gatherings may have to take place over Zoom, but shoppers will still have the pleasure of customized gift giving by shopping online and sending loved ones holiday greetings through the internet. However, we just braved the elections yesterday and are still waiting for the final results of who will be the leader of the US. A new Adobe report (PDF) takes a deep dive into the analytics of the holiday 2020 forecast.

Predictions for today

Consumer anxiety regarding the election results had a muted impact on online shopping activities on Election Day, Nov. 3. US consumers spent $2 billion online yesterday. Adobe’s report noted that today, the day after the election, there will be an expected 13% drop in sales, versus the previous three days (Nov. 1 to Nov. 3), in which online sales increased by 31%.

“To be clear,” said Taylor Schreiner, director at Adobe Digital Insights, “We’re not basing our forecast on who wins the presidency, rather we’re looking at people’s propensity to shop online during an election cycle, based on historical context.

Spending will be 11% slower today than the other days of the week as shoppers determine if the economy will be in their favor or not. The day after the 2016 election, online shopping was down 14%, and 6% slower in 2018. The report predicts a $158 million reduction in spending versus expected sales in 2016.

“Online shopping remained relatively stable on election day as many consumers hit the polls,” Schreiner said, and added, “However, previous election cycles have shown that online growth tends to drop most notably on the day after the election. Once a clearer picture of the election emerges in the coming days, we expect to see holiday shopping pick back up shortly after.”

Through this Friday, Nov. 7, Adobe forecasts $16.3 billion in online retail spending. If this day-after-the-election follows past patterns of post-election days, online retailer sales could drop by $300 million, and below $2 billion today.

Unsurprisingly, since the outcome of the elections will impact everyone in the US, 26% of consumers said that knowing the election outcome will impact how they spend their money during the holidays.

The majority of the holiday season, according to Adobe, is expected to stay above $2 billion and rise above $3 billion from Nov. 22 to Dec. 3.

Adobe did a survey of 1,000 US consumers and discovered that after the presidential election is decided, 63% of retailers believe consumers will gain confidence in spending after the results are announced, but 26% of US consumers said the outcome of the election will definitely impact holiday spending.

For the full holiday season, considered Nov. 1 to Dec. 31, Adobe Analytics’ data suggests US online holiday sales will total $189 billion, up 33% year-over-year, equal to two years’ growth in a single season.

Stimulus checks will also play a role; if consumers receive a second round of stimulus checks or if on-ground stores need to shut down in major parts of the country, Adobe expects consumers to spend an additional $11 billion in online shopping, surpassing a total of $200 billion, a 47% year-on-year increase.

“Post-election, security teams should remain on high alert for fraudulent activity,” said Brandon Hoffman, chief information security officer at the IT/cybersecurity company Netenrich. “The most important things users should keep in mind is to work directly on sites and apps and email confirmed to be direct from retailers.”

Adobe Analytics reviewed 100 million SKUs, one trillion visits to US-based retail sites, transaction data from 80 of the top 100 US web retailers, a survey of 1,000+ consumers in October 2020, and shipping and returns analysis based on millions of orders.

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