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Black Friday and Cyber Monday Online Sales Set Records but Fall Short of High Expectations

Cyber Monday once again set the record for the largest online shopping day in the United States as consumers spent more than $10.8 billion online. Black Friday online sales also topped last year’s with $9.03 billion in online sales, but neither day lived up to the elevated expectations for online holiday spending during the pandemic.

These sales estimates come from Adobe Analytics, who forecasted $12.7 billion in online sales on Cyber Monday and $10.3 billion on Black Friday. While Cyber Monday online sales volume increased 15 percent and Black Friday online sales volume increased by 22 percent year-over-year, the reported sales figures fell about 15 percent short of expected volume on Cyber Monday and 12 percent shy on Black Friday.

Online spending is up while brick-and-mortar spending is down due to more customers opting to shop online and avoid crowds. Consumers have also started their holiday shopping earlier than in past years. Many consumers remember the fulfillment and shipping delays they experienced at the onset of the pandemic and opted to get an earlier start on holiday shopping. Meanwhile, retailers started Black Friday and holiday deals earlier to spread out deals and reduce crowd sizes. According to Digital Commerce 360, more than 75 percent of the top 50 online retailers in North America advertised Black Friday deals starting on the preceding Monday or earlier.

The year-over-year percentage growth in online shopping on Cyber Monday is at the lowest level since 2016, but overall holiday shopping online is showing tremendous growth. Adobe Analytics additionally reported $5.1 billion in online sales on Thanksgiving Day, up 21.5 percent from last year, and $9.38 billion in online sales on the weekend between Black Friday and Cyber Monday, a 27 percent increase year-over-year.

While the 19 percent growth in Cyber Monday online spending fell well short of Digital Commerce 360’s projection for 38.5 percent growth and Adobe Analytics forecast for 39.2 percent growth, this likely had more to do with consumers getting an earlier start on holiday spending than consumers spending less overall. While Adobe Analytics revised their forecast for online spending across the entire holiday season down from $189 billion to $184 billion after Cyber Monday, this still represents a 30 percent increase in online holiday spending relative to last year.


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