What we learned about fashion from Adobe’s holiday sales report

Apparel and accessories fared well during the holidays, but consumers may be pulling back from shopping for the time being.
article cover


· 3 min read

Ding, ding, ding: Adobe’s annual holiday sales data numbers are in, and it looks like consumers shopped online a lot: a total of $211.7 billion online, to be exact, between November 1 and December 31.

The numbers signify a YoY bump of 3.5%.

While toys and video games led the way, apparel and accessories both saw an uptick in demand, up 94% over October 2022. The results  were likely a sigh of relief for fashion retailers, given factors such as inflation and fear of a recession that have tended to cause consumers to be more careful about their purchases.

Jonah Ellin, chief product officer at 1010data, believes the increased consumer spending has been a long time coming. “There’s been a lot of pent-up demand,” he told Retail Brew. “The general sentiment, especially with the upper class, is ‘We have money, we’ve worked hard, and we deserve this.’”

Shop it like it’s hot

While this translated well for luxury apparel sales, brands may have also had a little bit of help from online customers shopping “where they’re being marketed,” as Ellin put it.

“When you’re online, you get targeted for the things that they’re able to see that you’re interested in,” Ellin told us. “You pull the trigger on it. That’s fairly evident in the uptick in mobile shopping through the holiday season.”

  • 47% of online sales during the holidays were placed through smartphones, per Adobe.

The continued prevalence of buy now, pay later (BNPL) offered a potential bright spot, as orders via the payment solution rose 4% in 2022 compared to 2021, but revenue from that category dropped 2% YoY.

Ellin, however, believes that  consumers may hold off on new purchases now that the holiday rush is over. “People have been increasing their use of credit cards, people have been increasing the use of BNPL, and I suspect there’s gonna be a lot of people looking at pretty big bills in January,” he said.

The perfect plan

But this does not mean all hope is lost. Ellin said that retailers should be conscious about maintaining relationships with their customers and understanding their needs.

Retail news that keeps industry pros in the know

Our free retail newsletter delivers insights to keep retail leaders and decision-makers up to date.

He offered a few pointers, starting with trying to understand what a brand’s consumer actually values. “What are their occasions? And how do I make sure that I’m presenting them the right value proposition?” he said.

Second, and “absolutely critical,” is the ability to execute: being able to build the right products and market them in a timely manner. Ellin said that it doesn’t matter whether it’s an online-only business or a brick-and-mortar one. “[Customer] expectations are that they’re gonna get a great value proposition in real time from you, and that they’re not going to chase you to figure out where the product is,” he said.

And last but not least, he said, don’t underestimate the value of good communication to effectively deliver both the value proposition and why a brand is the right brand for the customer. “Some customers, you can send them 500 emails, and they’ll never see that,” Ellin said. “But if they see a brand they like as a media representation or a banner on a web page, they’ll say, ‘Oh, yeah, I remember that.’ It’s really a balancing act. Understanding how to be additive without being intrusive.”—JS

Retail news that keeps industry pros in the know

Our free retail newsletter delivers insights to keep retail leaders and decision-makers up to date.