Black Friday shoppers set record for online sales amid COVID

Black Friday shoppers set record for online sales amid COVID

Shoppers set a new record for spending on Black Friday, only this year, it was online.

Nervous about the coronavirus, Black Friday shoppers avoided the stores and took to their keyboards on what is normally the busiest shopping day of the year.

Online sales reached $9 billion on the day after Thanksgiving, reflecting growth of more than 21 percent from last year, well ahead of even bright expectations, according to Adobe Analytics, which analyzes website transactions from 80 of the top 100 U.S. online retailers. It was the first time web shoppers topped in-person gift hunters on the day after Thanksgiving.

That made Black Friday 2020 the second-largest online spending day in history in the United States, behind Cyber Monday last year.

The surge meant US consumers were spending at least $6.3 million per minute, CNBC reported.

And that record is likely to be broken on Monday, with spending predicted to range between $10.8 billion and $12.7 billion, up as much as 35 percent from last year.

The Black Friday surge followed a record-breaking Thanksgiving day online, said Kristin McGrath, an online shopping expert at Ziff Media Group and editor at Adobe Analytics said shoppers spent a record $5.1 billion on the holiday.

She noted that with few exceptions, stores did not open on Thanksgiving Day this year, but with fewer family gatherings, more shoppers had time to browse online. “Even in past years we’ve seen a lot of online shopping on Thanksgiving,” she said. “This year we saw even more.”

Macy's at Herald Square was quiet on Black Friday.
Macy’s at Herald Square was quiet on Black Friday.Daniel William McKnight

Game consoles, TVs, kitchen equipment, smart speakers and upgraded office equipment like laptops and printers were among the hot items for families looking at staying at home even more this winter.

With many local stores aiming Small Business Saturday deals at web shoppers, and Cyber Monday still to come, homebound gift-buying will continue. The National Retail Federation predicted online sales would grow at least 30 percent for the season, to $218.4 billion, a forecast that may seem conservative when all the gifts are unwrapped.

But unlike prior years when “doorbuster” sales lasting just a few hours provided incentives for crushing crowds to storm stores, this year, retailers started offering sales early and often. NRF said online sales were up 10.6 percent in October as holiday deals started to roll out. The trade group said surveys found 42 percent of consumers started their holiday shopping earlier.