Black Friday online shopping on track to hit record as holiday shoppers skip stores, Adobe says

  • Online sales on Black Friday are on track to reach a record high this year,according to preliminary data from Adobe Analytics.
  • They're on pace to total between $8.9 billion and $9.6 billion, an increase of between 20% and 29% depending on how many shoppers make purchases late into the night.
  • The data indicates one-day holiday sale, typically associated with an in-store shopping frenzy of long lines and the pursuit of coveted gift items, played out mostly online.

Online sales on Black Friday are on track to reach a record high this year, as bargain hunters combed websites for deals and avoided stores during the coronavirus pandemic, according to preliminary data from Adobe Analytics.

As of late Friday, online sales were on pace to amount to between $8.9 billion and $9.6 billion, an increase of between 20% and 29% depending on how many shoppers make purchases late into the night. Nearly 42% of sales came from smartphones as of 4 p.m. ET, a 7% increase over last year.

The data indicates one-day holiday sale, typically associated with an in-store shopping frenzy of long lines and the pursuit of coveted gift items, played out mostly online. With the pace of Black Friday online shopping, U.S. consumers will have spent at least $6.2 million per minute on the day of holiday sales, according to Adobe.

Online sales also hit a record on Thanksgiving Day, jumping 21.5% to $5.1 billion, according to Adobe. The company analyzes website transactions from 80 of the top 100 U.S. online retailers. Nearly half of those sales came from smartphones. Retailers also got a boost in sales if they offered curbside pickup. Companies that offered the faster alternative to getting a package delivered to customers' homes had a 31% higher conversion rate of traffic to their sites. 

With many retailers starting holiday sales in October and putting some of their deepest discounts on their website, shoppers had less of a reason to head to stores in person this Black Friday. Stores and malls reflected more fewer brick-and-mortar sales, with fewer lines and emptier parking lots than holiday sales events of the past.

Pandemic-related restrictions and Covid cases also shaped behavior. Shoppers were more likely to buy gifts online if they lived in states with Covid-19 restrictions around family gatherings. Adobe saw 3.4 times higher year over year growth in online shopping in those areas on Thanksgiving Day compared with states with less restrictions.

During Black Friday, the best-selling toys were Star Wars items, Hot Wheels, Nerf toys and video games including Super Mario 3D All-Stars, Madden NFL 2 andNBA 2K21. In the electronics category, Apple AirPods, air fryers and Amazon Fire TV were the top sellers.

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