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Cyber Monday hits sales high for 2021, with one in three shoppers buying online

It was the largest shopping day of 2021, according to Adobe. Amazon also reported a "record breaking" day.

Overhead view of a person shopping online
Oscar Wong/Getty Images

Did pandemic shortages and early holiday deals mean we spent less on Cyber Monday this year than in 2020? It depends who you ask. 

People looking to scoop up Cyber Monday deals spent 1.4% less this year than last, according to the Adobe Digital Economy Index, with online sales in the US on Monday totaling $10.7 billion. Salesforce had a different result for Cyber Monday, saying sales rose 3% from 2020 to $12.3 billion this year. 

Even though Adobe's data showed that sales dipped a bit, Cyber Monday remained the biggest online shopping day of the year, the company said. Additionally, Adobe said, consumers are on track for a holiday season that will "break online shopping records." 

"With early deals in October, consumers were not waiting around for discounts on big shopping days like Cyber Monday and Black Friday," said Taylor Schreiner, director of Adobe Digital Insights, in a statement. "This was further fueled by growing awareness of supply chain challenges and product availability."

Salesforce said spending was up 4% from last year for the full week leading up to Cyber Monday, hitting $61 billion. Product shortages likely had an effect on "Cyber Week" sales, the company added, reporting that the number of products being sold shrank 6% from last year. Still, one in three people in the US made an online purchase on Cyber Monday, said Rob Garf, vice president and general manager of retail at Salesforce.

Black Friday, the day following Thanksgiving, has marked the generally accepted beginning of high-volume holiday shopping, but the start of the sales season has been creeping earlier in recent years. Some shoppers may have been looking to grab holiday items earlier this year as the pandemic and shortages of key materials have disrupted global supply chains, meaning online orders could take longer than usual to get delivered

Amazon, the country's largest online retailer, didn't provide any sales figures, but said it was the company's "biggest kickoff to the holiday shopping season ever." In a press release Tuesday, the company cited "record breaking" sales and pointed to a third-party study saying Amazon (along with pet supply story Chewy) offers the lowest prices online. 

Amazon started promoting holiday deals in early October. The company said Tuesday that home goods, toys and apparel were among the most popular categories for its holiday sales since the deals rolled out. Bestselling items included Apple AirPods, Beats Studio buds and Sengled smart lightbulbs. Among Amazon's own products, the Fire TV Stick with Alexa Voice Remote, the third-generation Echo Dot and the Echo Show 5 were popular purchases, the company said.

While Adobe found Black Friday online sales were also down slightly this year, the company expects people to spend $207 billion -- a record -- across the whole holiday shopping season, which runs from Nov. 1 to Dec. 31. 

Some of the general top sellers on Cyber Monday were toys, including Hot Wheels, Nerf products and Baby Alive, as well as video games, Apple devices and the Nintendo Switch, according to Adobe.