Skip to Main Content

Dec 2, 2021 | 3 minute read

Holiday Shopping Fails – 2021 Sales Fall Short

written by Emily Kathi

Another holiday shopping cycle bites the dust, and the results are in: nothing for the record books. AdWeek reported lower projections, with the biggest returns projected for Cyber Monday.

Amid supply chain issues and a national labor shortage, it seems shoppers made the bulk of purchases earlier in the season to ensure no disappointments on Christmas morning, as retailers offered deep deals as early as October to get a jump on the season.

Not surprisingly the most sought-after items include high-definition TVs, next gen smartphones, devices, gaming systems, household appliances, and the latest toys for the kid, or the kid-at-heart, who has everything.

A few key numbers and findings:

  • Online sales reached $8.9 billion on Black Friday, slightly below last year, according to data from Adobe Analytics

  • Physical store traffic rose from last year, but still well below pre-pandemic levels

  • Buy-now-pay-later (BNPL) services are on the rise, and in recent months several major retailers now offer the option at point-of-sales both in-store and online

  • Curbside pickup remains steady since the pandemic began, while other shopping behaviors have waned. According to Adobe, curbside services were used in 20% of all online orders placed on Black Friday. For the month of November, curbside services were up 78% from pre-pandemic levels in 2019

And now on with the show… Holiday shopping woes abound in the Twittersphere and among the TikTok nation, with pain points ranging from no inventory to coupon missteps, and overall lackluster shopping experiences.

Here are snapshots of a few #fails:

When the deal is really anything but:

holiday ecommerce fails

No availability for highly anticipated new product launches on the busiest shopping day of the year is in this shopper’s mind not just a fail, but one of epic proportions:

 ecommerce shopping fails

While some retailers do accept expired paper coupons, in the case of online codes for an on-demand service, it requires an extra step to chat with customer service when the code fails – or when you don’t even get to redemption because the offer is marked with an expired date.

ecommerce shopping fails

Inconsistency on sale models and pricing, whether intended or triggered by a glitch in your inventory system, damages the trust you work so hard to build with your customers.

ecommerce shopping fails

And when you do find that unicorn of a deal, your size seems to be the only dreaded out of stock:

ecommerce shopping fails

While this instance could be chalked up to tough luck, or maybe this shopper has niche taste beyond a 4K Ultra HD TV, a deeper dive could suggest you aren’t listening to what your customers want.

ecommerce shopping fails

Again, glitches can ruin the experience; especially when you’ve been led to believe you are “next in line”…

ecommerce shopping fails

Despite all the inevitable #fails along the way, many shoppers found they got exactly what they were looking for at the right price, either in person or online. I shopped Small Business Saturday by purchasing handmade items from some of my favorite local artists.

But even if you didn’t have the best experience, some shoppers dug deep and found a certain amount of humor in the situation:

ecommerce shopping fails

And brutal self-awareness:

ecommerce shopping fails

We can’t forget our Black Friday shoppers who braved the in-store experience, only to find curious merchandizing decisions:

(Video Source)

And well, at least you aren’t this guy:

(Video Source)

That’s a wrap on holiday shopping 2021…it turned out to be more of a bear than a bull, one could say. Stay tuned for more insights and trends as we continue to navigate shopping habits in these unprecedented times.