Election Kills Online Sales

Print Email

In the two-week period beginning November 1 and ending November 14, U.S. online sales increased by just 1.3% year over year, compared with an estimate calling for sales growth of 7.8%. Online retailers lost out on more than $800 million in revenues during the run-up to and the immediate aftermath of the elections.

According to data released Thursday by Adobe Digital Insights, the sharpest drop occurred after the election, and total sales growth has slowed to 1.35% year over year. The change in spending habits marks the slowest growth rate for U.S. online sales Adobe has seen since it started tracking retail spending.

Principal analyst and director of Adobe Digital Insights, Tamara Gaffney, said:

Given the latest data, we are revising down our sales predictions for retailers. Similar to Brexit and its negative impact on consumer spending on durable goods in the U.K., U.S. consumers seem to hold off spending more online. Instead of the expected 11% year-over-year increase, we expect growth to fall to single digits this year. Sales on Thanksgiving Day and Black Friday next week will be an important indicator of how much sales expectations need to be adjusted this shopping season.

There’s little question that the election raised the level of uncertainty among traders and other investors. But by November 14, markets had pretty much decided that equities were a better bet for the future than bonds, although there have been some recent pullbacks on stocks. But if consumers are more concerned than ever about the direction of the economy, that does not spell good news for consumer product stocks.

The bulk of online sales remain driven by desktop users. Mobile and desktop site visits are nearly equal — 47% to 53%, respectively. Desktop sales accounted for 71% of spending, compared with just 29% for mobile sales.

Search contributed 40.3% share of sales, followed by direct traffic (27.3%), shopper helper sites (15.6%) and email (14.4%). Social and display traffic are growing the fastest compared with last year (20.3% and 18.9%, respectively), while shopper helper sites have seen the largest decrease (down 5.6%) followed by direct traffic (down 1.5%).

The top-selling electronics items were Samsung 4K TV, Apple iPhone, Sony PlayStation 4 and Apple iPads. The top-selling toys were electronic scooters and cars, Wild Things toys and Shopkins. Adobe Digital Insights believes that the Nintendo SNES Classic, PJ Masks and Hatchimals are the items most at risk of being out of stock.