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Global online sales top $1.14trn during Peak, but returns set to also set a new record

While November’s online sales were lower than in 2021 and 2020, Cyber Week deals, social media recommendations and Buy Online and Pick Up In Store (BOPIS) offerings helped retailers drive success in 2022. Across the 2022 holiday season, consumers spent a total of $1.14 trillion online globally, $270bn of it in the US.

So finds the 2022 Holiday Shopping recap from Salesforce, which analyses the shopping data from 1.5 billion shoppers worldwide across November and December 2022. The report uncovers that sales were up, but at a cost, with retailers discounting heavily in the run up to Christmas – and that returns are likely to hit record levels.

The data shows that retailers worldwide got shoppers’ attention with discounts in the runup to Christmas: After lackluster deals early in the season, retailers increased discounts. In the end, shoppers saw better deals than the 2021 holiday season — a 21% average discount compared to 19% the year prior. 

Top discount categories included beauty, skincare, and makeup with an average discount of 29%. General apparel and handbags were the next most discounted categories at 27%.

BOPIS also helped bring in customers shopping last minute and helped deliver some more sales growth. Nearly one out of every five online orders placed globally this holiday season were via BOPIS. BOPIS adoption by consumers peaked at 35% of all orders on the Friday before the Christmas holiday as shoppers retrieved last minute gifts. 

For example, when the ground shipping window closed on December 15, US companies that offered BOPIS grew their revenue nearly seven times faster than those without this fulfilment option.

Another driver of growth was social media referrals, which hit an all-time high this Christmas. Shoppers are adept at finding the products they want through all forms of commerce, but social media proved to be a growing favourite in 2022. 

Traffic referrals from social media hit an all-time high this holiday, driving 12% of all mobile traffic (+23% YoY). Belgium, Italy, and the US represented the countries with the most social media-minded shoppers. 

On the downside, 1.39 billion orders have been returned, accounting for 13% of total holiday orders and a 63% increase in returns YoY. These numbers spiked in the six days after Christmas, with 16% of orders returned over that week — a 5% increase over last year. 

“Retailers closed out the 2022 holiday season with stronger online sales growth than expected – driven in large part by US demand, steeper discounts on peak days, and BOPIS options,” says Rob Garf, VP & GM of Retail, Salesforce. “Staggering return numbers show that consumers are still cautious amid economic uncertainty, however.”

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