Commerce Data

2022 Holiday Shopping Recap: Winners, Losers, and What Comes Next

Sovrn Advertising Team // February 13, 2023

The 2022 holiday shopping season was a wild one, with unpredictable twists and turns from start to finish. Although retail sales increased slightly compared to 2021, growth was slower than predicted — and rising inflation meant that shoppers were getting less bang for their buck. In response, brands offered deep discounts in an effort to attract more of consumers’ holiday budget.  

Those deals ended up being one of the biggest drivers of holiday success in 2022. Here’s what Sovrn Commerce data tells us about the top categories of the 2022 holiday season — and those that didn’t fare as well.

Top categories of the 2022 holiday season

Holiday promotions started earlier than ever in 2022 and discount rates topped pre-pandemic levels — reaching 30% or more in some retail sectors. In addition, affiliate earnings were significantly above 2021 levels. Our data showed elevated EPCs (earnings per click) during the holiday shopping season, with top merchants paying commission rates in excess of 10%. 

Many of the season’s best-performing categories used a combination of deep discounts and higher commission rates to drive more revenue. This included brands in Sports & Fitness (+90%), as well as Consumer Electronics (+140%). One category that excelled without either of these tactics was the Travel sector (+112%), which benefited from consumers’ pent-up wanderlust and the end of pandemic-related restrictions.

On the flip side, it may seem counterintuitive to call out the top retail category as a poor performer. However, our data shows a 37% dip in year-over-year revenue for Fashion & Accessories. In general, merchants in this sector didn’t increase affiliate commission rates — and many didn’t discount as aggressively as brands in other categories. Both of these factors may have played a role in the revenue decline.

Data insights are key to commerce success in 2023

While 2022 finished relatively strong, continued economic uncertainty and the looming threat of recession make it difficult to plan effectively for the coming year. Conditions are volatile, budgets everywhere are tightening, and merchants are under pressure to prove ROI on their affiliate spend. Publishers are facing significant challenges, but the right data and insights will set you up for future success — regardless of what lies ahead.

Sovrn has the tools and technology to help you make smarter decisions, optimize your commerce strategy, and maximize the value of your revenue opportunities. Here are just a few of the many Sovrn resources that can help make 2023 your best year yet:

Our updated Commerce Analytics dashboard puts performance data at your fingertips in near-real time — rather than the industry average of a full day or more. Insights include:

  • Clicks and page views within moments of when they occur
  • Revenue data within one hour of the earning event

Our Approved Merchants dashboard has been enhanced with new functionality, including a Preferred Merchants tab to show which merchants are offering the highest commission rates at any given time. 

We’ve also expanded our Commerce reporting capabilities to include:

  • Revenue Update report: Granular data like revenue breakdowns, transaction details, and more.
  • CUID/UTM report: Link-level performance metrics with UTM tracking parameters and custom tracking identifiers.
  • Non-Monetized Click report: Insights into the clicks that did not generate any affiliate revenue.
  • Approved Merchants report: A comprehensive list of merchants you’re approved for, including estimated commissions and conversion rates.
  • Merchants at Risk report: A list of merchant programs that have recently been paused or canceled, plus your earnings with these merchants over the last 30 days.
  • Recommended Merchants report: A list of the top 100 approved merchant programs you haven’t worked with recently. (Check out this video to learn how to pull your personalized report.)

Get started today!

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