Online Shopping Reaches Record on Black Friday 2020

With the holiday shopping season now officially underway, consumers are apparently taking their shopping online in record numbers. Preliminary figures from Adobe Analytics (as reported by TechCrunch) show online sales on Black Friday growing 21.6% year over year to top $9 billion. Although that’s on the lower end of Adobe’s initial estimates ranging from $8.9 billion to $9.6 billion, the numbers put Black Friday 2020 second only to Cyber Monday 2019 in terms of online sales days. However, this year’s Cyber Monday is expected to top the list once figures are tabulated, with Adobe expecting between $10.8 billion and $12.7 billion in sales during the day.

Also notable is that $3.6 billion worth of Black Friday’s online sales came from shoppers using smartphones. That’s an increase of 25.3% over last year. Meanwhile, Adobe predicts that consumers will do 42% of their holiday shopping from smartphones this season.

Of course, the increase in e-commerce came as in-store sales plummeted. According to findings from Sensormatic Solutions, traffic at brick and mortar stores declined 52.1% year over year on Black Friday itself and 45.2% from November 22nd to November 27th. What’s more, while Thanksgiving Day sales had trended higher for the past several years, they dropped by 94.9% in 2020 compared to 2019 as many stores remained closed. These declines are surely due to concerns about the current pandemic, with Sensormatic Solutions senior director of global retail consulting Brian Field explaining, “Due to COVID-19 and social distancing requirements, shoppers were more purposeful in their in-person Black Friday shopping, causing significantly less crowds than we’ve seen in the past. This was compounded by retailers not offering as many in-store doorbusters and the increasing adoption of e-commerce.”

While the increase in online shopping this Black Friday is hardly a surprise given the circumstances, it stands to reason that they could have been even higher had retailers not moved to spread the sales holiday out this year. Despite some outlets holding their best deals for this weekend, several started rolling out Black Friday pricing in recent weeks. Additionally, others are promising to continue these promotions into December.

All in all, these early figures offer welcome news for retailers who have endured a harsh year (as have many consumers). Unfortunately, the results may not be as rosy for those without e-commerce components or alternative delivery options such as curbside pick-up. That said, there is still hope for these businesses as shoppers who may have been averse to Black Friday shopping in-store might still make it to brick and mortar locations before the holiday arrives — not to mention that Small Business Saturday results are yet to be revealed. With that, hopefully this shopping season will help set retailers back on the right track as 2021 approaches.


Jonathan Dyer

I'm a small town guy living in Los Angeles looking to make solid financial decisions. I write for a number of finance websites, including HuffingtonPost and Business2Community. I founded in 2015 to focus on personal finance and the emerging FinTech markets.

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