The election has hurt online retail sales

President-elect Donald Trump has been critical of Amazon (NASDAQ: AMZN) and its CEO Jeff Bezos who has not exactly been a supporter of the incoming leader of the free world.

That has led some to think that the incoming administration could create regulatory problems for the online leader. In reality however Bezos' company -- assuming it is impacted by any broad slowdown in online sales -- has not had to wait until Trump takes office to feel some sales pain.

The election itself -- both the uncertainty leading up to Nov. 8 and the discord after Trump's shocking win -- has been a drag on online shopping. New research from AdobeDigital Insights shows that between Nov. 1 and Nov. 14 online retailers lost a significant amount of sales with growth for the period being much less than expected.

Amazon One

Like the president-elect, Amazon has its own planes. Image source: Amazon.

How much did the election impact online sales?

From the beginning of November through Nov. 14, Adobe found that online retailers lost out on over $800 million in expected sales. That number was not a drop in sales, but a reflection of the fact that growth was not as high as expected. The effect was felt most deeply after the election when Adobe's analysts expected growth of 7.8%, but it only came in at 1.3%.

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Although it may be more convenient to purchase flowers online, if you have time, it's best to locate a local florist near the person you want to send flowers to. According to a study by, you're more likely to pay less and receive a better bouquet for your money when you use a local florist. 

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You may not realize it, but when you purchase furniture online, you also have to pay for delivery and surcharge fees. In order to avoid paying these unwanted costs, it's easier to get it in person. For example, when buying furniture in-store, you're able to negotiate a better price and maybe even convince the salesperson to throw in free delivery. 

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Much like shopping for flowers, it is best to purchase your groceries at an actual grocery store. When you purchase them in person, you have the opportunity ensure you are choosing the best meats, produce, etc. -- something you can't do when ordering online.

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As beach season rapidly approaches, you probably want to invest in a few new swimsuits. However, before you make that online purchase you'll want to heed this warning. Trae Bodge, senior editor at RetailMeNot, says, " Fit can fluctuate even among suits from the same brand...  and many online retailers don’t allow swimsuit returns if the packaging has been opened or there’s evidence the suit has been worn." 

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Social Media Followers 
We get it, social media is addicting.  While it may be cool to have over 10,000 followers, buying them can be risky. Depending on the social media site you are using, the followers you purchase can be deleted if they are considered spam accounts. 

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Unless advised by your doctor, you should avoid buying medicine online at all costs. It can be tempting to get off-brand products, but you may be unknowingly purchasing illegal or counterfeit drugs. 

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The internet has made it possible to cut out the middleman when dealing with major purchases, but sometimes, that salesperson is needed. If you're buying a car for the first time, it may be best to get it at a dealership. When you get a car online, you're taking away the opportunity to test it out first and negotiate a better deal. 

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Knockoff Accessories 
While getting counterfeit bags and jewelry is cheaper than buying the real thing, you should do so with much caution. Oftentimes, these items are sold on unsecured sites which can lead to either your computer getting a virus or your identity being stolen. 

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While you can find an array of pets being sold online, it is always safest to purchase one in person. Much like furniture, you may have to deal with excessive delivery fees, and what's more, your pet can get sick or even worse. 

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Fragile Items
If you're truly invested in a fragile or irreplaceable item, it's highly recommended to buy and pick it up in the store. This cuts out any chances of a delivery person dropping and breaking your prized possession. 

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And while the sample only involves two weeks, the change in spending habits marks the slowest growth rate for online sales Adobe has seen in the U.S. since it started tracking retail spending. In addition the company also noted another first -- shopping visits to retail sites and apps have fallen below the rate of previous years. That, Adobe said, indicates a drop in consumer confidence.

"Given the latest data, we are revising down our sales predictions for retailers. Similar to Brexit and its negative impact on consumer spending on durable goods in the U.K., U.S. consumers seem to hold off spending more online," Adobe Digital Insight Principal Analyst and Director Tamara Gaffney said in a press release. "Instead of the expected 11% year-over-year increase, we expect growth to fall to single digits this year. Sales on Thanksgiving Day and Black Friday next week will be an important indicator of how much sales expectations need to be adjusted this shopping season."

Adobe based its research on aggregated and anonymous data from 18.1 billion visits to retail websites.

What does this mean going forward?

It's hard to know -- and Adobe does not project -- whether this is a short-term trend or an ongoing problem. Clearly the election was contentious, close, and a likely distraction for consumers. The result, which was not expected by many, certainly could have created a hangover effect which will slowly wear off over time. It's also possible that the impact could linger as the nation waits to see what the new president does and how it impacts the economy.

And while Adobe does not break down the impact of this growth slowdown on any one retailer, a slowdown in online shopping likely hurts Amazon. Though it's unlikely that any uncertainty or even fear caused by the election will dramatically hurt the online leader during the holiday season, but it's worth watching whether it has any impact.

It's very likely that this drop happened due to the intensity of the election distracting the public. Now that the vote has happened, and the president-elect starts to put his administration in place at least some of the questions will go away and people will get back to shopping.

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