Adobe (Nasdaq:ADBE) today announced the release of its monthly Digital Price Index (DPI) for July, which identifies new trends in online grocery shopping and the continued impact of Brexit on London flight and hotel prices. Online grocery shopping and in-store pickup were at a record high, while sales of Pokémon branded items grew significantly as well. Prices across nearly all other categories the DPI tracks continued to decline. Leveraging big data, the DPI looks at inflation rates by analyzing actual transactions in real-time to account for changes in consumer behaviors, filling a void in traditional, survey-based economic reporting.
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For July, the DPI reports substantial growth in online grocery sales with 66 percent Year-over-Year (YoY). The share of groceries purchased online and picked up in-store rose from 18 percent in January 2015 to a record 45 percent in July 2016, whereas 55 percent accounted for in-home deliveries. The rise in online grocery shopping reflects people’s desire for convenience and time savings while delivery cost and availability beyond metropolitan areas contributed to the increase of in-store pickups. Online grocery shopping grew beyond major tech centers, with Oregon, Kentucky, Washington, Colorado and Indiana seeing the highest increase with up to 350 percent YoY. While prices for a majority of online groceries continued to fall (0.8 percent YoY), prices for fruits and vegetables increased – with prices for organic produce surging at twice the rate of non-organic.
In the toys and electronics categories DPI data shows continued price deflation. Sales for Pokémon items, for example, fell 2.9 percent Month-over-Month (MoM) despite sales volume for Pokémon items increasing up to 170 percent YoY. Pokémon toys and electronics saw even more deflation than the overall categories (1.2 percent for toys and 1 percent for electronics). Additionally, Brexit continued to impact London travel prices. London airfares declined significantly at 13.3 percent since the Brexit referendum and are down 12.3 percent YoY. Hotel prices in London dropped 15.2 percent YoY.
“The Federal Reserve is looking for an uptick in inflation, yet we’re seeing further deflation, even for categories with significant increase in demand such as groceries and popular merchandise like Pokémon items,” said Mickey Mericle, vice president, Marketing and Customer Insights at Adobe.
“The lack of inflation in Pokémon-branded items reflected in the DPI, despite their explosion in popularity, is fascinating. Among other factors, it could be that the new buyers are more price sensitive, which hints at some of the difficulties the economy is facing in raising prices, or that they have been able to ramp up production without increasing per unit costs,” said Pete Klenow, professor, Department of Economics at Stanford University.
“If you look at the growth rate of the US economy, it's only moderate – there are a lot of international risks and there is no sign of inflation,” said Austan Goolsbee, professor of economics, The University of Chicago's Booth School of Business and former chairman of the Council of Economic Advisers for President Obama. “While our long-run prospects are excellent, the next 12-18 months are likely to continue to have some significant bumps.”
By tracking seven dollars and fifty cents out of every ten dollars spent online with the top 500 U.S. retailers,** the DPI is able to analyze billions of digital transactions. Adobe is the first company to conduct a digital-centric analysis based on real-time access to data tracking the price-paid and the quantity of each item sold. Unlike other models, Adobe Digital Insights leverages the Fisher Ideal Price method, which uses actual quantities purchased to measure inflation and is recognized by leading economists as the gold standard for the calculation of inflation. In contrast, the Bureau of Labor Statistics’ Consumer Price Index (CPI) relies on consumer surveys to approximate sales in each product category and tracks only 87,000 products. To produce the July DPI, Adobe analyzed 15 billion website visits and online transactions for over 2.2 million different products.
Essential goods including groceries and non-prescription drugs continue to see less deflation than non-essential goods such as toys and electronics. Latest findings include:
- Groceries: The DPI reports that prices dropped 0.2 percent MoM in July for online groceries. In June, the DPI saw prices decrease 0.1 percent YoY. The CPI saw 1.3 percent deflation during the same period. The DPI covers 30 to 40 percent of online grocery transactions for approximately 195,000 products, and is heavily comprised of groceries purchased online and picked up in-store.
- Toys: For July, the DPI shows deflation of 1.2 percent MoM for toys. In June 2016, the DPI reported prices dropped 4.9 percent YoY, whereas the CPI showed 8.5 percent deflation. Data contains transactions for approximately 249,000 products.
- Nonprescription Drugs: Non-prescription drugs prices rose 0.3 percent MoM in July. In June 2016, the DPI saw prices increase 0.3 percent YoY, whereas the CPI reported prices dropped 0.4 percent during the same time period. DPI nonprescription drug data is based on transactions of 16,000 products.
- Electronics: In July, prices for electronics continued to decrease, with the DPI reporting 0.9 percent deflation MoM. The CPI doesn’t break out electronics overall, but reported that prices fell 19.4 percent for TVs and 7.6 percent YoY for computers in June. For the same period, the DPI saw slightly less deflation for TVs, down 17.5 percent, and significantly more deflation for computers, reporting that prices dropped 12.3 percent. DPI data is based on online transactions of one million electronics products.
- Flights: Domestic airfares decreased 4.8 percent MoM in July and 7.5 percent YoY. All domestic flights saw price decreases in July except Florida. Prices for international airfares dropped 0.2 percent MoM. Data is based on approximately 370,000 flight routes.
- Hotels: In July, domestic hotel prices saw 2.3 percent inflation MoM. Hotels in Nevada saw the largest price increase. In June, the DPI saw a 0.8 percent increase in domestic hotel prices, whereas the CPI reported 6.0 percent inflation YoY. Data is based on approximately 250,000 hotel properties and includes associated fees.
The Adobe Digital Economy Project July report can be found here. Adobe, Austan Goolsbee and Pete Klenow will host a TweetChat about the state of the U.S. economy on August 15 at 2 p.m. Eastern Standard Time. Join the discussion on Twitter at #AdobeChat.
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**Source: Internet Retailer’s 2015 Top 500 eGuide
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