US Black Friday shoppers tapered online splurge as some returned to stores

RALEIGH (REUTERS) – US shoppers spent slightly less online during Black Friday (Nov 26) this year, with many venturing back to physical stores despite coronavirus fears, tight supplies and retailers’ efforts to encourage earlier holiday purchases.

For the first time ever, online spending during Black Friday – traditionally one of the biggest shopping days of the year – fell, reversing the growth of recent years, according to data from Adobe Analytics, a wing of Adobe’s business that specialises in data insights and tracks transactions at 80 of the top 100 retailers in the United States.

Retailers lured shoppers to make holiday purchases online as early as September this year, because supply chain logjams had prevented them from quickly replenishing year-end merchandise.

Shoppers’ total outlay online during Black Friday was roughly US$8.9 billion (S$12.2 billion), less than the US$9 billion in 2020, Adobe said. Spending online during Thanksgiving Day was flat at US$5.1 billion, Adobe said.

Many retailers closed physical stores on Thanksgiving this year, as they did in 2020, amid a labour shortage and the Covid-19 pandemic.

Stores reopened the day after Thanksgiving, and shopper visits increased by 47.5 per cent compared with 2020, but fell by 28.3 per cent when compared with 2019, the last pre-pandemic year, according to data from Sensormatic Solutions.

Supply chain challenges and shipping delays may have prompted shoppers to visit stores to increase the chances of securing gifts in time for Christmas. More are making purchases online that they can pick up in-store, which keeps shipping costs down.

Macy’s, Walmart, Target and Kohl’s, for example, gave shoppers the flexibility to shop online, in stores or through hybrid methods, and walked away as winners on Black Friday, said Mr Louis Navellier, chairman of investment firm Navellier & Associates.

Of those making purchases online, slightly more used their smartphones. Canadian e-commerce company Shopify said the number of shoppers on its platform who used smartphones to make purchases increased this year to 72 per cent from 67 per cent last year.

Moves by retailers to encourage buying holiday gifts earlier could also lessen the importance of Cyber Monday, the first Monday after Thanksgiving.

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