Pandemic drives $9B in online Black Friday sales, $3.6B on mobile devices

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Industry experts already knew that this year’s online Black Friday sales would break records. Thanks to the COVID-19 pandemic, more people are shopping online than ever before. However, the results of Friday’s shopping festivities are even more impressive than most people expected.

In all, U.S. digital Black Friday sales topped $9 billion. That marks a sharp 21.6 percent year-over-year jump compared to 2019. A more surprising number is how much of that revenue came through smartphone sales. Mobile users spent $3.6 billion on the shopping holiday. The figure is a definitive sign that the e-commerce world is evolving.

Record Sales

Almost every retailer had incredible deals on Black Friday. Consumers had a chance to save money on everything from tech gadgets to home goods to clothing. While many of those deals remain live, and there are more scheduled for Cyber Monday, this year’s holiday shopping season is already breaking records.

Although Black Friday fell short of topping the all-time online holiday shopping record (held by last year’s Cyber Monday), it did become the largest Black Friday ever. Analysts from Adobe expect that Cyber Monday will continue that trend and that spending will rise by 15 to 35 percent.

Unsurprisingly, what people are spending money on hasn’t changed. Tech gear led the way with things like TVs, smartwatches, and smart speakers flying off the virtual shelves. Video games also had a big impact this year thanks to the recent launch of two next-gen consoles, Sony’s PS5 and Microsoft’s Xbox Series X. Nintendo dominated the games segment with hit titles like “Animal Crossing: New Horizons” and “Super Mario 3D All-Stars.”

Evolving Industry

Recent trends have made it clear that the e-commerce industry is changing. Aside from the fact that consumers are shopping online more than ever, growth in mobile sales continues to outpace the industry as a whole.

The convenience and ease of online shopping are now accessible in mobile-first experiences from a variety of retailers. Consumers can do all of their shopping without ever looking at a laptop or desktop. The advanced features of mobile devices (like depth-sensing cameras) make it possible for retailers to provide a high-tech shopping experience at home. In the coming years, things like virtual fittings will become even more popular.

Meanwhile, the online grocery shopping segment also experienced a jump on Black Friday. Consumers purchased 397 percent more groceries online this year than they did last year. Indeed, that trend has been evident throughout the entirety of 2020 and will likely persist into the future.

Speaking of the future, analysts are split on whether the online sales figures from this year will carry over to 2021. It appears that the pandemic will likely start to subside in the summer thanks to breakthroughs in vaccines and treatments. That could bring people back to brick-and-mortar stores by next Black Friday.

However, the convenience of online shopping and the opportunity to skip the huge crowds could convince shoppers to stay virtual well into the future. Retailers will be winning either way.


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