Young woman standing in front of empty shelf in a supermarket


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We're only halfway through November, but holiday shoppers are already hitting a wall — and it's not because  they're reluctant to spend. 

Online shoppers saw 2 billion out-of-stock messages in October 2021, according to Adobe Analytics. That's a colossal 325% rise compared with October 2019, the start of the last pre-pandemic holiday shopping season. Categories plagued by the highest out-of-stock levels include electronics, jewelry, apparel, and home goods.

Related: Shortages That Could Make Your Holidays Way Less Merry

Still, shoppers are definitely finding something to spend their money on: They spent $72.4 billion online last month, up 8% from 2020. It appears that parents are driving a lot of that early-bird spending, with toy sales up 50% and video game sales up 20% from September 2021.

While earlier sales have lured shoppers to spend, those sales definitely aren't as good this year. Adobe found that discount levels are way down in several categories compared with last year:

  • Sporting goods (2.8% vs. 11.2%)
  • Electronics (8.7% vs. 13.2%)
  • Appliances (4.6% vs. 10.2%)
  • Home improvement and tools (-1.2% vs. 6.8% — prices actually increased)

The news isn't all bad, though: Discounts on TVs and furniture are off only 0.3%, while discounts on computers and toys have actually gotten fatter (12.4% vs. 11.9%, and 15.9% vs. 7.5%, respectively).

Related: Happy Holidays: Here’s What Will Cost More This Year

Unprecedented supply-chain disruptions have made it nearly impossible for retailers to keep many items in stock, and shoppers have gotten the message to start buying early — or face potential disappointment. Most of the nation's largest retailers, including Target, Walmart, Costco, and Amazon, have been peppering Black Friday deals throughout the month of November to encourage earlier spending. 

Related: The Best Early Holiday Deals at Costco

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