Holiday Shopping Trends: Retail and Travel Sales in Early November

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The holiday shopping season is in full swing just in time for the next Accertify Holiday Tracker!  On October 1st, we started sharing quick bi-weekly synopses of what we are seeing in e-commerce and putting that in context with previous years and against a backdrop of broader macro trends.

Accertify is fortunate to protect 40% of the Internet Retailer’s top 100 merchants and the top global airlines (based on revenue) and leading US ticketing and entertainment websites, we have unique insights to transaction volumes across the world’s marquis brands. If you missed the last Accertify Holiday Tracker, you can read it here.

And now for our third iteration. We looked at transaction volumes from November 1-15 across retail, travel, and entertainment industries globally from 2019, 2020, and 2021.  To aid in our comparison, and to provide a broader perspective across the COVID-19 pandemic, we’ll use the 2019 time period as our basis.

As we’ve been sharing in our first two Holiday Trackers, travel and entertainment have experienced incredible rebounds from last year (141.4% and 613.5% respectively). That trends continues as travel surpasses 2019 volumes (12.8%). While minimal (-0.32%), this is the first time we’ve seen a decline in entertainment compared to 2019, but it can probably be attributed to calendar fluctuations from year to year and many outdoor venues shutting down at the end of October. As the calendar switched to November, retail has taken back the spotlight. On the surface, the 14.1% YoY increase may not seem that impressive next to the triple digit gains in travel and entertainment. Don’t let the numbers fool you. This time of year, we’re comparing big numbers against big numbers. Retail e-commerce saw extraordinary pandemic-driven growth last year of 16.7%, and it continues to outperform this year (14.1%).

An interesting trend we are seeing is the number of first-time buyers at merchants.  While it may be attributable to many factors – hesitation to shop in-store due to COVID, avoiding long lines or crowds, or the simplicity of e-commerce – our hypothesis is product availability. In general, assuming product price and value are comparable, most consumers are loyal to their favorite brands. That is perhaps until they don’t have the desired product in stock due to supply chain issues. These cases result in consumers purchasing from another retailer and manifesting as first-time buyers. While the largest brands may be able to mitigate this scenario by chartering their own cargo ships1 to avoid delays at ports, the majority simply can’t. We’ll continue to keep our eye on this one.

As we look back at the first half of November, Accertify’s clients’ e-commerce transaction volumes across all industries globally continue to grow at a solid pace of 15.3% compared to last year and 26.4% compared to 2019.  Of note, is the 1.6% decline between 2020 and 2019. While this is the first time we have seen a decline, it simply reflects the fact that even the retail juggernaut could not overcome significant declines across other industries, most notably travel.

1https://www.wsj.com/articles/biggest-u-s-retailers-charter-private-cargo-ships-to-sail-around-port-delays-11633858380