Black Friday reports show online sales drop, as in-store traffic rebounds from last year but falls short of pre-pandemic levels

Black Friday shoppers at a shopping mall in Toronto, Canada on November 26, 2021.
  • Online sales hit $ 8.9 billion on Black Friday, slightly below 2020 levels, according to data from Adobe Analytics.
  • Meanwhile, physical store traffic increased significantly from last year, but was still well below pre-pandemic levels.
  • The mixed performance, analysts said, indicates a shift in consumer trends, such as buying earlier, especially amid the supply chain crisis.

Another Black Friday has ended, and early reports show mixed performance for the annual shopping vacation.

While the impact of the coronavirus pandemic held back sales in 2020, this year’s Black Friday faced a number of unique hurdles, including a domestic labor shortage, chain constraints supply and the emergence of a new variant of COVID-19.

While retailers have made gains, especially in areas such as in-store traffic and mobile sales, data shows the industry is still struggling to return to pre-pandemic levels. The results also indicate a change in consumer spending habits, such as starting shopping earlier in the season and taking advantage of new services like buy now-pay-later.

“Consumers have been shopping strategically this season: buy early and take advantage of the deals that retailers have been making since late October,” Adobe Digital Insights director Taylor Schreiner said in a statement Friday. “Black Friday is still a major online shopping day, but the increase in online shopping stems from the least-marketed days of the season.”

We’ve taken a closer look at the key findings from Black Friday, below.

People line up to enter a store during Black Friday shopping at the Fashion Outlets of Chicago in Rosemont of Greater Chicago Area, Illinois, the United States, Nov. 26, 2021.

Store traffic increased, but did not reach pre-pandemic levels

While some shoppers have encountered the traditional Black Friday long line scenes and crowded malls, others reported sparsely populated and fairly quiet stores this year.

This mixed bag was also reflected in the traffic numbers: According to data from RetailNext, physical store traffic increased 61% on Black Friday from 2020 levels. And while the boost is a Significant improvement over last year, in-store traffic was still 27% lower than pre-pandemic rates in 2019.

Likewise, Sensormatic Solutions, a company that tracks physical store traffic, found that while there was a 48% gain from 2020, rates were still 28% lower than in 2019.

“While in-store shopping still did not return to 2019 levels, more shoppers felt comfortable visiting stores in person this Black Friday than in 2020,” said Brian Field, senior manager from the global retail board at Sensormatic Solutions, in a press release. “One of the factors behind this increased traffic could be persistent supply chain issues and shipping delays. “

Online sales have fallen

Ecommerce sales hit $ 8.9 billion on Black Friday, slightly below 2020 levels of $ 9 billion, according to data from Adobe Analytics.

The number was at the low end of Adobe’s predicted range, and also came after disappointing stable sales of $ 5.1 billion on Thanksgiving Day – marking the first time the two days have failed to increase sales. expenditure from one year to the next.

Sales are “another sign that consumers have started to shift spending towards the start of the season, responding to promotions and offers from retailers that started in October,” Adobe said.

Shoppers at a Revolve x Afterpay event during New York Fashion Week 2021.
A view of the Afterpay ledger during Revolve’s New York Fashion Week pop-up at Hudson Yards on September 9, 2021 in New York City.

The use of buy now and pay later has increased

Buy Now and Pay Later (BNPL) services like Klarna and Afterpay are on the rise, and in recent months, several large retailers have chosen to integrate the option at point-of-sale both in-store and online.

Thanks in part to its new ubiquity, BNPL usage is on the rise this holiday season: According to Adobe, BNPL’s total spend and order volume in November are up 422% and 438%, respectively, compared to 2019 levels.

Smartphone navigation is on the rise

Mobile purchases accounted for 44.4% of online sales on Black Friday, a 10.6% year-over-year increase, according to Adobe. However, a majority of consumers prefer to browse deals on their phones before making desktop purchases, with smartphone visits accounting for 62.2% of the share compared to desktop, an increase of 2.2. % from 2020, according to data.

Curbside pickup is still thriving

While some pandemic-era shopping habits are gone, one remains popular – curbside pickup. According to Adobe, sidewalk services were used in 20% of all online orders placed on Black Friday. For the month of November, sidewalk services were up 78% from pre-pandemic levels in 2019.

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David A. Albanese