People walk by a shop during Black Friday sales in New York City, the US, November 26 2021. Picture: REUTERS/JEENAH MOON
People walk by a shop during Black Friday sales in New York City, the US, November 26 2021. Picture: REUTERS/JEENAH MOON

Raleigh, North Carolina — US shoppers spent slightly less online during Black Friday in 2021, with many venturing back to physical stores despite coronavirus fears, tight supplies and retailers’ efforts to encourage earlier holiday purchases.

For the first time, spending online fell during Black Friday — traditionally one of the biggest shopping days of the year — reversing the growth of recent years, according to data from Adobe Analytics, a wing of Adobe’s business that specialises in data insights and tracks transactions at 80 of the top 100 US retailers.

Retailers lured shoppers to make holiday purchases online as early as September, because the supply chain logjam prevented them from quickly replenishing year end merchandise. Shoppers’ total outlay online during Black Friday was roughly $8.9bn,  less than the $9bn in 2020, Adobe said. Spending online during Thanksgiving Day was flat at $5.1bn, Adobe said. Thanksgiving Day was celebrated this year on November 25.

Many retailers closed physical stores on Thanksgiving this year, as they did in 2020, amid a labour shortage and the coronavirus pandemic. Stores reopened the day after Thanksgiving and shopper visits increased by 47.5% compared with 2020 but fell by 28.3% when compared with 2019, the last pre-pandemic year, according to data from Sensormatic Solutions.

Supply chain challenges and shipping delays may have prompted shoppers to visit stores in order to increase the chances of securing gifts in time for Christmas. More are making purchases online that they can pick up in-store, which keeps shipping costs down.

Macy’s, Walmart, Target and Kohl’s, for example, gave shoppers the flexibility to shop online, in stores or through hybrid methods, and walked away as winners on Black Friday, said Louis Navellier, chair of investor Navellier & Associates.

Of those purchasing online, slightly more used their smartphones. Canadian e-commerce company Shopify said the number of shoppers on its platform who used smartphones to make purchases increased this year to 72% from 67% last year.

Retailers’ moves to encourage buying holiday gifts earlier could also lessen the importance of Cyber Monday, the first Monday after Thanksgiving.



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