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Ho, ho, heck: Early holiday shoppers ran into 2 billion out-of-stock messages in Oct.

Shoppers make their way through The Shops at South Town in Sandy on Monday, Dec. 23, 2019.
Shoppers make their way through The Shops at South Town in Sandy on Monday, Dec. 23, 2019.
Steve Griffin, Deseret News

Will empty shelves, both real and virtual, make gift card purchases the first verse in a disappointing theme song for the upcoming 2021 holidays?

While a new report found a tidal wave of early bird shoppers spent over $72 billion last month in online purchases, ongoing supply chain and labor shortage issues are leading to unprecedented earlier-than-usual gift buying disappointments for many who are looking to get a jump on the season.

Data released Tuesday by Adobe Analytics found in just the last month alone, consumers got over 2 billion out-of-stock messages from their favorite U.S. online stores. Now, it appears availability issues could lead to gift-cards-in-lieu-of-loot taking over the top spot of holiday gift buying lists.

“With over 2 billion out-of-stock messages last month, consumers are beginning to understand the real impact of the supply chain challenges,” said Taylor Schreiner, director of Adobe Digital Insights in the report. “Some have begun to adjust their holiday strategy accordingly, with parents shopping for toys earlier and some settling for gift cards this season.

“For those who have not yet started their holiday shopping, they will need to be prepared to be flexible.”

Adobe’s report, which amasses data that reflects actual online transactions by tracking over 100 million product codes in 18 categories, found a slew of early insights as the 2021 holiday season fast approaches:

  • Enticed by earlier deals, U.S. consumer spent $72.4 billion online in October 2021, representing 8% growth year over year.
  • From September to October this year, toy sales rose 50%, video game sales 20% and gift card purchases were up 20%. Online consumers have spent some $680 billion this year, up 9% over last year’s record pace and 57% over October 2019.
  • The 2 billion out-of-stock messages in October represent a 250% rise over pre-pandemic levels in January 2020 and a whopping 325% over the rate in October 2019.
  • Electronic products had the highest rate of out-of-stock issues last month, followed by jewelry, apparel, home and garden products, and pet products.
  • The top toys for online shoppers so far include Pop Fidgets, Got2Glow Fairy Finder and Bluey. Top electronics and devices have been the Occulus 2 virtual reality goggles, soundbars, Samsung and TCL televisions, PlayStation 5 and Nintendo Switch.