Black Friday and Cyber Monday online sales weaker than expected

by Kim Souza ([email protected]) 271 views 

Consumers did not live up to analysts’ predictions of spending on Black Friday and Cyber Monday, two of the biggest shopping days of the year. Adobe Analytics reports consumers spent $10.7 billion making online purchases on Cyber Monday, down 1.4% from a year ago.

It was the first time in since 2012 that sales decreased from the prior year. Adobe said online spending for Black Friday totaled $8.9 billion, down from $9 billion a year ago. Despite the decline, Adobe expects the entire holiday season will see record-breaking e-commerce sales. They said sales were down because consumers already began to make holiday purchases well ahead of the Thanksgiving weekend.

“Black Friday still remains a major online shopping day, but the surge in online shopping is coming from the less marketed days of the season,” said Taylor Schreiner, director at Adobe Digital Insights.

Sensormatic reported in-store traffic was up 48% on Black Friday, compared to last year but it still lagged 2019 store levels.

“Everybody started earlier and, most importantly, the shopper started earlier,” said Brian Field, senior consultant at Sensormatic. “Going back to pre-pandemic times, the holiday season very clearly started the week of Black Friday. You could bank on it.”

Field also said he expects in-store visits to lag 2019 levels by 10-15% for the full-holiday shopping period. He said given the inventory constraints and supply chain challenges, consumers are more apt to shop in-store to avoid shipping delays.

Curbside pickup saw increases this year compared to pre-pandemic levels, growing 33%. It was used in 18% of all online orders, according to Adobe, which noted that it was used in 25% of all online orders last year. Adobe researchers reported more than 41% of online sales were with smartphones while smartphone visits to e-commerce sites reached 59.4%, an indication shoppers often start their shopping trips via their smartphone.

While the holiday shopping season was underway a new threat to the economy emerged as the COVID-19 variant known as Omicron made the news. Matt Shay, CEO of National Retail Federation, said Tuesday that Omicron could direct more dollars toward electronics, toys, apparel and other items in lieu of vacations and movie tickets. Despite the Omicron variant surfacing during a key time for holiday shopping, Shay reiterated the NRF forecast of retail sales to range between $843.4 billion and $859 billion for November and December. He said this would represent an all-time high for holiday spending.

“We know, unfortunately, that when the variants have had a real impact on the economy, the goods side of the economy has actually benefited from that because people change behavior away from the experience side of the economy and spend more time and more dollars engaged in the goods side of the economy,” he said.