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Black Friday Online Sales Soar; Retail Traffic Plummets

As expected, ongoing consumer trends toward e-commerce and away from shopping malls magnified during a pandemic. New data from Adobe Analytics saw a 22% year-over-year increase in online sales on Black Friday (Nov. 27), the official start to the winter retail season.

The research firm, citing data from 80 of the top 100 online retail sites, said e-commerce revenue reached $9 billion the day after Thanksgiving, compared with $7.4 billion during the previous-year period. Adobe said it was the second-highest online revenue day since Cyber Monday 2019 when revenue reached $9.4 billion. This year’s Cyber Monday (Nov. 30) is projected to top $10.8 billion, up 15% from last year.

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Meanwhile, e-commerce’s gain was brick-and-mortar’s drain. Preliminary data from Sensormatic Solutions indicated consumer visits to retail stores on Black Friday dropped 51.2% compared with 2019. Shopper traffic also decreased 45.2% week-to-date (Sunday, Nov. 22 to Friday, Nov. 27) compared with the same period last year.

“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,” Brian Field, senior director of global retail consulting at Sensormatic Solutions, said in a statement. “This was compounded by retailers not offering as many in-store doorbusters and the increasing adoption of e-commerce.”

While many retailers limited their Black Friday hours compared to non-pandemic years, the peak time for shopping remained the same, with the busiest influx of footfall around 2 p.m., according to Sensormatic.

“As we approach ‘Super Saturday’ (Dec. 19), and corresponding shipping deadlines, we expect to see some of the in-store traffic that didn’t materialize on Black Friday appear as consumers wrap up their holiday shopping and make last-minute purchases,” Field said.

The research firm expects the 10 busiest shopping days of 2020 to account for 34.2% of all holiday traffic as compared to 46.5% in 2019. The days include:

  1. Friday, Nov. 27 — Black Friday
  2. Saturday, Dec. 19 — Super Saturday
  3. Saturday, Dec. 26 — Day after Christmas, aka “Boxing Day,” in some global regions
  4. Wednesday, Dec. 23 — Wednesday before Christmas
  5. Saturday, Dec. 12 — Second Saturday in December
  6. Monday, Dec. 21 — Monday before Christmas
  7. Saturday, Nov. 28 — Saturday after Thanksgiving
  8. Tuesday, Dec. 22 — Tuesday before Christmas
  9. Saturday, Dec. 5 — First Saturday in December
  10. Sunday, Dec. 20 — Sunday before Christmas

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