Consumers spent $222.1 billion online from November 1 to December 31, 2023, up 4.9% year-over-year (YoY), setting a new record for US-based e-commerce, according to Adobe Analytics data.

A total of $123.5 billion was spent online in the month of November (up 6% YoY), bolstered by a strong Cyber Week— which drove $38 billion in spend online (up 7.8% YoY). In December, consumers spent a total of $98.6 billion online (up 3.7% YoY), driven in part by discounts that lingered past Cyber Monday. 

Shoppers found deals in electronics, where discounts peaked at 31% off listed price (versus 25% in 2022), as well as toys at 28% (versus 34%) and apparel at 24% (versus 19%). Discounts were strong across other categories including computers, televisions, appliances, sporting goods and furniture.

While consumers showed a strong appetite to shop online, many are giving themselves greater flexibility with their budgets. This holiday season, ‘Buy Now, Pay Later’ (BNPL) usage hit an all-time high, contributing $16.6 billion in online spend, up 14% YoY and representing $2.1 billion more than the last holiday season.

Cyber Monday was the biggest day on record for the payment method ($940 million, up 42.5% YoY). BNPL saw strong traction leading up to the holiday season as well. Year-to-date (Jan 1 to Dec 31), the payment method drove $75 billion in online spend, up 14.3% YoY and $9.4 billion more than 2022. 

“In an uncertain demand environment, retailers leaned on discounting and flexible payment methods to entice shoppers this holiday season. The strategy was effective, driving record spend online during big days like Cyber Monday and Black Friday, and a record 11 days that surpassed $4 billion in daily spend this season,” Adobe Digital Insights lead analyst, Vivek Pandya said.

This holiday season, mobile also hit a new milestone with over half (51.1%) of online sales coming through smartphones (up from 47% in 2022). Mobile shopping was highest on Christmas Day driving 63% of online sales (61% in 2022).

Across major marketing channels, paid search remained the biggest driver of sales for retailers (29.4% of online sales attributable to that channel). Direct web visits (19.3%), affiliates/partners (16.6%), organic search (15.9%) and email (15.3%) were also major contributors. Revenue directly attributable to social media remained at less than 5% of total sales, but that share has grown 5% YoY.