Now that we’ve made it past Halloween, it’s time for that last-minute fine tuning of our holiday e-commerce strategies.  And while last year was a bundle of uncertainty for retailers, this year is looking better.  Well, sort of.  If your merchandise has made it off a container ship and to your warehouse, then consider yourself lucky.  In fact, it’s these types of concerns about product shortages and stockouts that have seen many retailers starting their holiday engines early.

With those concerns top-of-mind, today we’re highlighting where we’re already seeing sold-out products and early-season discounting trends, so you can get ahead of the market.  Let’s take a look.

We’re hearing a lot about out-of-stock products these days – from parts for cars to that toy you were hoping to gift to your favorite kid.  The impact and anxiety the global supply chain logjam is creating is palpable, as one executive interviewed about the matter in The New York Times said, “The

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re’s delays in every single piece of the supply chain. You’re very much not in control.”

But what’s happening with fashion categories?  Are we seeing more out-of-stock and sold-out products this year than last?  We took to our data to find out more.

What we saw was that, in the last two weeks alone, all of the product categories in our sample saw higher sold-out rates than one year ago.  And when we compare, side-by-side, sold out rates for the same categories for full price and discounted products, there’s little difference.  (A wide gap between the sold out rate and sold out rate for only full price would indicate that many products are being purchased at a discount.)  The fact that this gap is small is notable because heavy discounts have been an unfortunately common industry practice, yet these numbers indicate that, presently, more shoppers than usual are willing to buy at full price to ensure they can get their hands on available product.

Another way to understand the shifting market dynamics right now is by looking at discounting.  As we just mentioned, fashion categories have often suffered from excessive discounting, but could a global pandemic and a constipated global supply chain finally help the industry kick its discounting habit?  We were curious to find out more.

Our data showed that at the end of October, average category discounts were well below the 20 percent mark.  What’s even more promising is that, with the exception of one category, average discounts were down from one year ago.  And potentially indicating that retailers are dialing down their in-season discounts due to limited stock, most categories, with the exception of sneakers and handbags, saw their discounts decrease from the previous month (September).  

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So, all in, we know that we’re seeing more out-of-stock products, along with lower discounts, heading into this holiday season. If you haven’t already, check out our last season coverage, including which items were most and least likely to go on sale, on our blog.  And stay tuned, because you know we’ll be reporting on all the key events and metrics during Cyber Week.