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Published: Dec 09, 2021 3 min read
Close up of a digital screen showing a cursor arrow clicking on a shopping cart icon being lifted by balloons due to inflation.

As Christmas shopping kicked into high gear last month, online prices rose at a record pace. And with a quarter of all holiday spending to be set to be conducted online this year, last-minute shoppers can expect to feel the crunch too.

Online prices for clothes, appliances and other goods purchased in November rose 3.5% compared to last year, according to Adobe’s Digital Price Index, which tracks more than 100 million products for sale online in the U.S. That’s the highest jump since Adobe first started collecting the data in 2014, and the 18th consecutive month of online price growth.

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On a monthly basis, prices fell slightly in November as retailers rolled out Black Friday discounts. But a still-snarled global supply chain means higher shipping and storage costs for retailers — costs that will continue to get passed on to consumers. And soaring demand for last-minute gifts could lead to shortages and stock issues that only exacerbate the problem.

Clothes saw the biggest price spike last month, with online prices up 17.26% on a yearly basis. The price of flowers rose 15.48%, while products in the "tools and home improvement" category saw a 6.93% bump.

Inflation is everywhere

Of course, it’s not just online prices that are soaring. Prices overall rose 6.2% on a yearly basis in October, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), and experts expect data released Friday to show an even higher rate of inflation in November.

But it’s not all bad news for shoppers: Adobe’s index shows that there were also a handful of online categories that got cheaper over the last year, including computers, which fell 5.64%, and jewelry, which fell 3.69%. Given the high rate of inflation in brick and mortar stores, it's actually cheaper to buy toys, computers and sporting goods online, according to Adobe's report.

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