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Sales data from the Thanksgiving weekend in the United States indicates that online sales were big winner.  Adobe Analytic, which looked transactions from 80 of the top 100 U.S. online retailers, reported that consumer spending on Thanksgiving itself was up by 21.5 percent year over year, reaching $5.1 billion, a new record. This compared to online sales worth $4.2 billion on Thanksgiving Day in 2019.

Black Friday, the day after Thanksgiving  which most consider the actual start of the holiday shopping season, saw online sales rising 22 percent increase in the United States to $9 billion, which was the second largest online spending day after Cyber Monday in 2019. That was below Adobe Analytic Black Friday forecast of $10.3 billion.

Cyber Monday had been projected to be the largest online shopping day in U.S. history and met expectations, registering  a 15.1. percent increase over 2019 to come in at $10.8 billion for the day.

However, while online traffic was buoyant, the same could not be said for brick-and-mortar stores. RetailNext reported that traffic was 42.3 percent  for the weekend, largely a result of the COVID pandemic,  although the  conversion rate and and average transaction value were up 3.8 percent and 4.9 percent respectively. This meant that, despite the precipitous fall in traffic, sales in brick-and-mortar stores slowed by a significant but less devastating 23.9 percent.


An estimated 186.4 million Americans took advantage of the Thanksgiving holiday weekend and shopped in-store and online this year, according to the annual survey released by the National Retail Federation and Prosper Insights & Analytics,

“As expected, consumers have embraced an earlier start to the holiday shopping season, but many were also prepared to embrace a long-standing tradition of turning out online and in stores over Thanksgiving weekend to make gift purchases for family and friends,” said NRF President and CEO Matthew Shay. “Retailers have been planning for the season by ensuring that their stores are safe, their associates are trained, the inventory is stocked and the online experience is seamless.

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 Many things have changed since the onset of the pandemic, but the commitment by retailers to meet the consumer where, when and how they shop at the prices they want to pay never changes.” 

While the overall number of shoppers from Thanksgiving through Cyber Monday dropped slightly from 189.6 million in an unusually robust 2019, this figure is still significantly higher than the 165.8 million shoppers in 2018.

Black Friday and Saturday saw tremendous growth in online activity. For the first time, the number of online Black Friday shoppers passed the 100 million mark, up 8 percent over last year. The number of online Saturday shoppers grew even more, up 17 percent compared with last year. Online-only shoppers increased by 44 percent for the entire weekend, for a total of 95.7 million.

“The growth in online activity this year was significant, particularly for Black Friday and Saturday shoppers,” Prosper Executive Vice President of Strategy Phil Rist said. “With the start to the holiday shopping season continuing to move up even earlier, consumers will further utilize these channels.”

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Over the five-day period, American shoppers spent an average of $311.75 on holiday-related purchases such as gifts or decorations, down from last year’s total of $361.90 but comparable to 2018’s $313.29. Of that amount, nearly three-quarters was spent directly on gifts.

According to the survey, about 55 percent of holiday shoppers said COVID-19 cases had no impact on their holiday spending plans this year, but 51 percent felt that, given the pandemic, they are more interested in holiday decorations and seasonal items. Shoppers were also eager to support small businesses, as 77 percent indicated they were more interested in doing so this year..

NRF defines the holiday season as November 1 through December 31 and has forecast that sales will increase between 3.6 percent and 5.2 percent over 2019 to a total between $755.3 billion and $766.7 billion. Over the 2020 holiday season, NRF expects that online and other non-store sales, which are included in the total, will increase between 20 percent and 30 percent.

In total consumers plan to spend $997.79 on gifts, holiday items and additional “non-gift” purchases for themselves and their families this year, according to NRF’s annual survey released in October