Amid the ongoing coronavirus pandemic reaching new heights in most states, Black Friday foot traffic in stores cratered 52.1 percent compared to last year, according to preliminary data from Sensormatic Solutions.
However, with a record number of consumers pivoting to shopping on computers and smartphones instead, online spending on Black Friday this year surged nearly 22 percent to hit a new record, according to data from Adobe Analytics.
The $9 billion spent on Black Friday makes it the second-largest online spending day in U.S. history—only behind Cyber Monday last year, according to Adobe.
Consumers spent $6.3 million per minute shopping online on Black Friday—or $27.50 on average per person. About $3.6 billion was spent via smartphones, a 25.3 percent increase compared to last year, reaching 40 percent of all online spending.
Smaller retailers also saw early success on Black Friday with sales 545 percent higher on Black Friday compared to an average day last month. They also received a 211 percent boost in sales this past week compared to the month prior.
The ten-month-long pandemic has pushed many retailers to showcase many of their best doorbuster deals online and encourage shoppers to buy on the web and then pick up purchases curbside. In-store and curbside pickup increased 52 percent year over year.
Coronavirus restrictions on family gatherings were also found to drive up sales. In states that put coronavirus restrictions around Thanksgiving gatherings, there was 265 percent higher growth year over year in online shopping over the last two days compared to states with less restrictions.
From reports across the country, many malls’ parking lots were only half full during the early hours of the morning on Black Friday. Foot traffic did pick up in some stores but that was mostly witnessed at open-air shopping centers where the warmer weather in many regions of the country helped considerably.
On Thanksgiving Day, many retailers, including Walmart and Target, had already decided to close their stores this year due to the pandemic. Foot traffic on the holiday slid to 94.9 percent compared to last year, and overall traffic was down 45.2 percent across the nation.
Online grocery shopping on Black Friday skyrocketed 397 percent compared to the previous month’s daily averages, while sales of personal care products jumped 556 percent and pet products 254 percent.
Ethen Kim Lieser is a Minneapolis-based Science and Tech Editor who has held posts at Google, The Korea Herald, Lincoln Journal Star, AsianWeek, and Arirang TV. Follow or contact him on LinkedIn.