Shopping online for the holidays? 3 words you’ll see a lot

It is always disappointing when you find what you want online, and the screen says, “Out of Stock.” You’ll be seeing a lot of that as you shop for the holidays this year.

Adobe Digital Insights, which tracks e-commerce throughout the year, notes the prevalence of out-of-stock messages was up a whopping 250% in October, when compared to pre-pandemic January 2020, and up 325% from October of 2019.



“It has been unprecedented, relative to what we’ve seen in previous years. What we typically see as conventional wisdom online is ‘I can find this cheaper online, and it’s available online,’ and that’s what’s been turned on its head,” said Vivek Pandya, lead analyst at Adobe Digital Insights.

By Adobe’s count, there were more than 2 billion out-of-stock messages displayed to online U.S. consumers in October.

The out-of-stock messages are the result of supply chain issues, as well as the exponential growth of everything consumers have been buying online since the pandemic began 20 months ago.

If you’re looking for money saving price comparisons between online retailers, or typical discounts as holiday season ramps up, you won’t find as many.

Supply chain shortages create shortages. Pandya said when shipping problems are added in, it becomes difficult for retailers to offer as many good deals.

Of the 18 categories Adobe tracks, consumers will find the highest out-of-stock levels with electronics, followed by jewelry, apparel, home and garden, and pet products.

Adobe’s Digital Economy Index is based on more than 1 trillion visits to U.S. retail sites and more than 100 million products.

Download the full report.

Jeff Clabaugh

Jeff Clabaugh has spent 20 years covering the Washington region's economy and financial markets for WTOP as part of a partnership with the Washington Business Journal, and officially joined the WTOP newsroom staff in January 2016.

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