Shoppers flock online—before Black Friday

Online pop-up offline
Online pop-up offline
Image: REUTERS/Fabrizio Bensch
We may earn a commission from links on this page.

Shoppers took to their computer and mobile screens by the droves this Thanksgiving, breaking online shopping records. The biggest jumps weren’t on Black Friday though, but in the days before, when people are assumed to be fully occupied with family, friends, and feasting.

Online revenue on Black Friday topped $6.2 billion this year, a 23.6% increase over last year says Adobe Analytics, which analyzes online transactions at the largest online retailers. That was more than had been predicted. There was an even bigger jump on November 21, the day before Thanksgiving, when online spending increased 31.8% over 2017 to $2.39 billion. And Americans spent $3.7 billion on Thanksgiving day itself—27.9% more than last year.

Foot traffic at malls and stores correspondingly decreased this year. Early data from ShopperTrak shows a year-over-year decline of 1.7% in visits to physical stores on Black Friday.

“Retailers have done their part to build better mobile experiences for consumers and turning nearly 10% more smartphone visitors into buyers this Black Friday versus last,” said Taylor Schreiner, director of Adobe Digital Insights.

Adobe also offers details on where all that money is going. The top five selling items on Black Friday were laptops, collectible dolls L.O.L. Surprise, small finger-grasping toys called Fingerlings, and video games Let’s Go Pikachu/EEvee and God of War.

Despite setting US shopping records, Black Friday spending is still less than the international phenomenon that is Alibaba’s Singles’ Day. Earlier this month, Singles’ Day online earnings reached $30.8 billion globally, compared with the $23 billion shoppers are expected to spend this Black Friday, both in stores and online.