US Black Friday online sales hit record $9bn despite high inflation

By News Desk
November 27, 2022

New York: US shoppers spent a record $9.12 billion online this Black Friday, a report showed on Saturday, as consumers weathered the squeeze from high inflation and grabbed steep discounts on everything from smartphones to toys.

Online spending rose 2.3 percent on Black Friday, Adobe Inc's data and insights arm Adobe Analytics said, thanks to consumers holding out for discounts until the traditionally big shopping days, despite deals starting as early as October.

Adobe Analytics, which measures e-commerce by analyzing transactions at websites, has access to data covering purchases at 85 percent of the top 100 internet retailers in the United States.

It had forecast Black Friday sales to rise a modest 1 percent.

Adobe expects Cyber Monday to be the season's biggest online shopping day again, driving $11.2 billion in spend.

Consumers were expected to flock to stores after the pandemic put a dampener on in-store shopping over the past two years, but Black Friday morning saw stores draw less traffic than usual with sporadic rain in some parts of the country.

Americans turned to smartphones to make their holiday purchases, with data from Adobe showing mobile shopping represented 48 percent of all Black Friday digital sales.

Many shoppers who opened their wallets said their purchases were strategic, not impulsive or splurges.

"We've been waiting" for discounts, said Tulio Rose, 28, who picked up a big-screen TV at a Best Buy store in Los Angeles, while shopping with Barnisha Nill, 35. They saved about $500 on the 85-inch (2.16-meter) Samsung TV for their new apartment.

About 166 million people were planning to shop from Thursday's Thanksgiving holiday through this coming "Cyber Monday," according to the National Retail Federation, almost 8 million more than last year. But with sporadic rain in some parts of the country, stores were less busy than usual on Black Friday.

"Usually at this time of the year you struggle to find parking. This year, I haven't had an issue getting a parking spot," said Marshal Cohen, chief industry adviser of the NPD Group Inc.

"It's a lot of social shopping, everybody is only looking to get what they need. There is no sense of urgency," Cohen added, based on his store checks in New York, New Jersey, Maryland and Virginia. "There's a lot of deals that weren't advertised. Some of the stores I got 50 percent off everything I bought," said Christine Chavez, 45. She added that she is primarily gift shopping and picked up items from Victoria Secret and Torrid.

"I was hesitant to come to the mall, and I have to say I'm pleasantly surprised," Chavez added.

Many shoppers looking for Apple's latest high-end phones returned empty handed from its stores as the technology company struggles with production snafus in China.

At a Dollar Tree store in Rockville, Maryland, shoppers said they were looking for specific items or picking up household items like sodas and dish sponges.

J.R. Moran, 49, gripped strands of red and green tinsel and felt antlers, which he planned to use for an "ugly sweater." But he said he would make other holiday purchases online.

"Online shopping is more convenient nowadays," Moran said.

According to Adobe, U.S. shoppers spent nearly 3 percent more online on Thanksgiving Day with purchases made on mobile phones driving the increase. Adobe Analytics, which measures e-commerce by tracking transactions at websites, has access to data covering purchases at 85% of the top 100 internet retailers in the United States.

Americans, especially from low-income households, are expected to pull back this year as inflation and higher energy prices pinch spending power. Europe's retailers face a worsening cost-of-living crisis and the distraction of the soccer World Cup. Retailers are offering steep discounts both online and in stores, which may pinch profit margins in the fourth quarter.