US Consumers Set to Spend a Record $1 Trillion Online in 2022

U.S. consumers are set to break online spending records this year.

Annual online spending will likely surpass $1 trillion for the first time in 2022, according to predictions from Adobe in a new report. 

Adobe data also showed that U.S. consumers spent $1.7 trillion online during the two years of the pandemic, up $609 billion compared with the two preceding years. 2021 was particularly strong, with online spending up 8.9% to $885 billion year-over-year. 

The company estimates that $32 billion of the uptick in online spending during the pandemic is partly attributed to rising prices due to inflation, which has persisted for 21 consecutive months. Consumer prices rose by 7.9% in February compared with a year ago, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics’ monthly report. This number was up from the 7.5% growth in January and represented the highest inflation rate since the 12-month period ending in January 1982.

Amid that heightened inflation in 2022, Adobe attributed $3.8 billion worth of e-commerce growth in the first two months of the year to higher prices. Nevertheless, consumer demand has remained strong: Online spending grew 13.8% to $138 billion year-over-year in those two months.

Adobe’s study found that categories with the most growth in online spending were groceries, electronics and apparel, the latter of which grew 8% to $126.2 billion in 2021 compared with 2020. The company predicts digital spending on apparel could hit $130 billion in 2022.

“E-commerce is being reshaped by grocery shopping, a category with minimal discounting compared to legacy categories like electronics and apparel,” said Patrick Brown, VP of growth marketing and insights at Adobe. “It highlights a shift in the digital economy, where speed and convenience are becoming just as important as cost savings.”

Adobe also noted that consumers increasingly opted for buy now, pay later (BNPL) options throughout the pandemic. Between between October and November 2020, BNPL increased 528% year-over-year. Curbside pickup also got a boost in the pandemic and has accounted for 20% of all online orders for retailers who have this service in 2022 so far.

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