By Natalie Mojica

Adobe Analytics released its latest Adobe Digital Economy Index Report on March 15, revealing a dramatic increase in U.S. consumer online spending and a shift in Americans’ grocery shopping habits.   

The report covered two years, beginning when lockdowns started in March 2020. Between then and February 2022, U.S. consumers spent $1.7 trillion, $609 billion more than they spent in 2018 and 2019 combined. Adobe projects that growth will continue this year and eventually go past a trillion dollars in 2022, making online spending history. Groceries alone are predicted to account for more than $85 billion this year.  

Experts like Vivek Pandya, lead analyst at Adobe Digital Insights, are certain the pandemic was the biggest catalyst for the rise in online spending.  

“The pandemic was a consequential moment for e-commerce. Not only did it accelerate growth by nearly two years, but it also impacted the types of goods consumers are willing to buy online,” Pandya said.   

The grocery industry saw one of the biggest shifts to an online platform. Consumers who had never bought groceries online before made it a part of their everyday life.  

“It highlights a shift in the digital economy, where speed and convenience are becoming just as important as cost savings,” Patrick Brown, vice president of growth marketing and insights at Adobe, said.   

Increased online grocery sales also led to a jump in curbside pickup, which currently accounts for about 20% of online orders. The report also displayed that consumers spent an average of $6.7 billion each month on online grocery orders, more than double the average of $3.1 billion per month before the pandemic.   

Online grocery shopping managed to prevail, despite many challenges like higher online prices and low inventory. Consumers spent $32 billion more in the past two years on the same goods they would regularly buy pre-pandemic. This news isn’t surprising when considering the 21 consecutive months of e-commerce inflation since June 2020.   

The 60 billion out-of-stock messages seen over during the pandemic didn’t dent online shopping rates either. Before the pandemic, there was a 1 in 200 chance consumers would see an out-of-stock message. Now those odds have increased to 1 in 59. Consumers typically deal with this problem by substituting an item out of stock with something else instead of being discouraged from buying anything at all.