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October online sales were up, but not for every vertical

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The irony of the perpetual recovering supply chain is that even with more sofas and beds and appliances in stock and no longer on a barge somewhere waiting to unload, now they’re sitting in a warehouse waiting to sell. 

October, along with November, is traditionally one of the busiest months of the year for sprucing up and furnishing the home for the holidays, but shoppers are holding back. 

Online sales of home goods were down 1% in October from a year ago, the decline due mostly to a 14% drop in furnishings and decor, Signifyd’s Ecommerce Pulse data shows. Stymied with 40-year inflationary highs and repeatedly whiplashed by the costs of food and gas, it seems shoppers may be budgeting for that holiday meal rather than a new dining table to eat it on. 

Sales in the home improvement category were up 8% in October from last year, Signifyd data shows, but flooring contractors, warehouse appliance stackers and contractors, in general, are reporting that work is super slow for what is usually a lights-out, busy time of year.

Contractors’ jobs appear to be slowing

“My handyman work for the management company’s 30 complexes is silent,” says Chuck Dent, a painter who also contracts work for apartment and HOA management companies in Los Angeles. “My own painting business is silent. It’s a little scary.’’

What you need to know
  • Ecommerce sales growth in October was up 23% from last year. Average order value was down, but an increase in shopping trips pushed the total number of products sold higher.
  • Account takeover attempts were up 1,789% year-over-year. 
  • Buy online, pick up in store and curbside pickup grew 80% in October compared to last year. Buy now, pay later also rose — up more than 20% over October 2021.

So for that holiday dinner, it may be back to setting up the rickety-rocky card table for the kids and rolling out that sofa bed mattress that’s akin to sleeping on a train track, but at least there are signs that traveling to see relatives and friends may finally happen. Sales of luggage dipped from September but still rose 14% in October from last year, Signifyd data shows.   

Bring out the blow-up beds!

Retailers continue to offer many choices to buy and receive items and have improved their fulfillment times by 53% in October from a year ago, Signifyd data shows. The buy online, pick up in store or at curbside (BOPIS) option was used 80% more in October than a year ago, and the success of the buy now, pay later (BNPL) plan continued, rising more than 20% across most verticals. 

These enticements helped overall ecommerce sales in October grow 23% from a year ago, boosted in part by a surge in spending during the week prior to Halloween, Signifyd’s Holidays data shows. 

Apparel sales still rising compared to a year ago

Fashion and apparel sales in October were down from September but still up (13%) year over year, while electronics sales rose (10%) from a year ago, primarily from sales of consumer electronics, according to Signifyd data. Sales in the footwear segment of apparel led all sub-categories, up 40% more in October than a year ago.

Signifyd data shows that October’s shoppers became even more discerning and calculating. Shoppers spent less money on more items in October, apparently looking for cheaper alternatives or smaller quantities. The average order value in October was down 30% from last year, but the number of items in a cart rose 17%, with total products sold during the month up 24%, Signifyd data shows. 

The glaring neon in all this data is that October shopping was clearly more deliberate and possibly a little less fun.  Faced with the high price of a Captain Hook costume at a store in downtown Los Angeles, an October shopper said he googled the item on his phone and found it for half price. Then he went to a pop-up Halloween store in Glendale, Calif., but said the costume was still priced too high. He opted to buy online. “I really only wanted the hook anyway,” he said. 

Along with the inflationary prices comes a startling data point across all verticals:  Aged account fraud pressure, which indicates account takeover attempts, was up 1,789% in October from a year ago, Signifyd data shows. Aged accounts are those that have been opened for a while and are a favorite target for account takeover fraud. 

Bot attacks, when fraudulent orders are repeatedly placed automatically, were up 232% overall in October from a year ago, with attacks on health and beauty items rising the most, up 510%, Signifyd data shows.  

Fraudsters don’t take a holiday

Home goods has been dealing with high fraud attacks all year and October was no exception.  Aged account takeover attempts were up 438%, and customer abuse fraud rose 508% from a year ago, Signifyd data shows. Customer abuse is when customers initiate or want a chargeback when they falsely claim an order never arrived (INR) or the goods received were not as described by the retailer (SNAD). Customer abuse is a difficult challenge for a retailer –– what if the claim is legitimate? It’s a challenge that Signifyd’s Complete Chargeback Protection successfully oversees for the merchant,  bringing clarity and resolution. 

So we move on to November, and Signifyd’s new live-feed Holiday Season Pulse Tracker predicts sales growth throughout November and into December. November brings retailers and shoppers Black Friday, the day after Thanksgiving, and Cyber Week, defined by Signifyd as stretching from Thanksgiving eve through the Tuesday following Cyber Monday.

Signifyd Holiday data predicts that Cyber Week will account for 19% of the holiday season sales, down from 21% in 2021, but still extremely relevant for retailers.

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Maryann Hudson

Maryann Hudson

Maryann Hudson is a freelance writer based in Southern California. She is a former investigative reporter for the Los Angeles Times and the author of two books dealing with issues in youth sports. She is the editor of and a regular contributor to the Signifyd blog. Contact her at [email protected]; or on Twitter @thecensustakers.