Black Friday Sales Hit New Online Record

By Alan Wolf, YSN

BrandSource’s forewarnings about the dramatic shift to online shopping were fully realized on Black Friday, when U.S. consumers broke the year-ago record for e-commerce sales.

According Adobe Analytics, which measures e-tail performance, customers spent an estimated $9 billion online this past Friday, up 22 percent from last year’s record haul.

Both large and small retailers benefitted from the tsunami of stay-at-home shoppers. As The Associated Press reported, chain store sales surged 403 percent on Black Friday and Thanksgiving combined, compared to the daily average in October, while smaller dealers enjoyed a none-too-shabby 349 percent sales spike over the same two-day period, the Adobe figures showed.

Related: Who Was Open on Thanksgiving?

What did prove to be a major differentiator on Black Friday was curbside pickup, Adobe observed, with stores that offered the service enjoying nearly a third more website traffic than those that didn’t, Fox Business reported.

Conversely, brick-and-mortar sales took a hit as COVID fears, fewer promotions and finite store hours kept footsteps light the day after Thanksgiving. According to Sensormatic Solutions, the retail data arm of Johnson Controls, in-store traffic fell 52.1 percent on Black Friday from year-ago levels, and was off 45.2 percent year-over-year for the first six days of Thanksgiving Week (Sunday, Nov. 22 – Friday, Nov. 27).

“Due to COVID-19 and social distancing requirements, shoppers were more purposeful in their in-person Black Friday shopping, causing significantly less crowds than we’ve seen in the past,” said Brian Field, Sensormatic’s senior director of global retail consulting. “This was compounded by retailers not offering as many in-store doorbusters and the increasing adoption of e-commerce.”

Nonetheless, Field foresees at least some of the traditional holiday crowds returning to stores on Super Saturday (Dec. 19), the last Saturday before Christmas. “As we approach Super Saturday and corresponding shipping deadlines, we expect to see some of the in-store traffic that didn’t materialize on Black Friday appear as consumers wrap up their holiday shopping and make last-minute purchases,” he said.

For BrandSource members, a sale is a sale, regardless of shopping format. As Todd Hall, president of Duerden’s Appliance & Mattress in Bountiful, Utah, told YSN, total weekend sales were up 24.7 percent over last year’s record business, despite level traffic and a weak average ticket that’s typical of the two-day period.

How’d they do it? “Close rate was great,” Hall noted, and the company traded all mass media advertising for digital marketing alone.

BrandSource, a unit of YSN publisher AVB Inc., is a nationwide buying group for independent appliance, mattress, furniture and CE dealers.