Black Friday Bounces Back With Record-Breaking Online Sales

Unlike last year’s lackluster start to the holiday shopping season, this time around consumers are back to breaking sales records.

U.S. shoppers spent $9.12 billion online, buying everything from toys to electronics to exercise equipment this Black Friday, according to Adobe Analytics. That’s a 2.3% increase compared to last year.

Mastercard SpendingPulse, which measures online and in-store retail sales across multiple forms of payment, stated Black Friday year-over-year U.S. sales rose 12%, excluding automotive.

“On the heels of two very atypical holiday seasons, 2022 is showing signs of normalcy,” said Bruce Williams, head of performance marketing at Dentsu Media U.S. “Well, as much normalcy that a holiday season with economic clouds hanging over it can give us.”

It’s a trend that analysts predicted, with both luxury buyers and value hunters turning up to shop.

Shopify also reported a record-setting Black Friday. The ecommerce platform’s merchants around the globe generated $3.36 billion in sales, a 17% spike compared to the same day in 2021.

In terms of marketing, figures from Adobe Analytics show paid search was Black Friday’s biggest driver, representing 30% of all online sales. Direct (18%), email (17%) and organic search (15%) were also major contributors. Revenue attributed to social media amounted to less than 5%.

In another first for the holiday shopping season, 48% of all Black Friday digital purchases happened on a smartphone, up from 44% last year, according to Adobe Analytics.

The National Retail Federation estimates more than 166 million Americans will shop, either online or in-person, over the five days from Thanksgiving through Cyber Monday.

“While there is much speculation about inflation’s impact on consumer behavior, our data tells us that this Thanksgiving holiday weekend will see robust store traffic with a record number of shoppers taking advantage of value pricing,” Matthew Shay, the trade association’s president and CEO, said in a statement.

Buy now, pay later

Amid high rates of inflation and a looming economic slowdown, more Americans are opting to buy now, pay later. Orders using the flexible payment plan rose 78% during Nov. 19-25 compared to the week prior, according to Adobe Analytics.

“As Black Friday hit record spending online, we’re also seeing more prominent signs of a budget-conscious consumer this year,” Vivek Pandya, lead analyst at Adobe Digital Insights, said in a statement. “Shoppers are embracing the buy now, pay later payment method more this year to be able to buy desired gifts for family and friends.”

Salesforce noted the average value of buy now, pay later U.S. transactions declined 6% on Thanksgiving Day, meaning more shoppers financed cheaper items than last year.

Rob Garf, vp and gm of retail at Salesforce, explained the option is “winning over many consumers on the fence, even on lower-priced goods as the pressure of inflation persists.”

Adobe Analytics anticipates Cyber Monday to be the year’s biggest day for ecommerce, generating $11.2 billion in digital sales—up 5.1% compared to last year.

“We project a strong Cyber Week, which has been kicked off by a stellar Black Friday,” said Dentsu’s Williams. “While uncertainties remain, and there are many key shopping dates in front of us, we’re hopeful the traditional buying peaks are the precursor to a season that delivers.”

Melissa E. Romero

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