Online shopping jumps 22% over Black Friday 2020
by Paul Davenport Paul Davenport on

With Americans instructed to scale back their holiday gatherings this year, they seem to be going in the opposite direction when it comes to holiday shopping, smashing 2019’s Black Friday record by spending an estimated $9 billion on U.S. retail sites last week.

This marks a 22 percent jump over the $7.4 billion record set last year, according to Adobe Analytics, and continues the multi-year trend of online shopping overtaking in-store purchases on what’s long been considered brick-and-mortar’s most important annual sales event.

Compared to 2019, however, in-store shopping dropped by 52 percent on Black Friday 2020, with foot traffic taking the biggest hit in the Northeast and Western parts of the country, according to retail tracker Sensormatic Solutions. To that end, jewelery and footwear saw the steepest dip in purchases made in-store, while apparel and home goods saw in-store sales fall by 50 percent and 39 percent respectively.

As much as Black Friday confirmed many short- and long-term trends about consumers, both generally and under the confines of a pandemic, these latest figures aren’t necessarily a death knell for brick-and-mortar. Rather, many experts anticipate that in-store shopping is merely reacting to our socially-distanced times, as buyers are now spacing out their visits to the store (as opposed to outright cancelling them) and will likely seek in-store bargains closer to the holiday.

This year is also likely to continue another recent retail trend where some of the shine of Black Friday is lost to the more recently-established Cyber Monday, which in recent years has usurped Black Friday as the biggest shopping day on the calendar as buyers tastes go digital.

While Adobe anticipated that this past Cyber Monday would be the largest online sales day in U.S. history—with estimated spending of $10.8-$12.7 billion in just one day—Amazon confirmed on December 1 that 2020 has already been the brand’s highest-volume holiday season to date. While Amazon didn’t disclose actual sales figures for either Black Friday or Cyber Monday, they did point out that buyers had gifts for others and themselves in mind when they filled up their carts this past weekend.

“In a holiday season unlike any other, it’s clear that customers still want great deals on gifts for their loved ones or a little something extra for themselves, and we’re glad to help deliver smiles throughout the season,” said Jeff Wilke, CEO of Amazon Worldwide Consumer, in a statement.

While Amazon was mum on sales of their own brands and goods during the period, Independent businesses selling on Amazon surpassed $4.8 billion in worldwide sales this past weekend, marking a 60 percent jump versus last year.

Will the events of 2020 change retail for good?

The important thing to consider here is that even the numbers that align with long-term trends related to holiday sales this year need to be taken with a healthy dose of context. After all, many Americans literally aren’t able to shop in person right now, whether for holiday gifts or even for groceries, forcing them to spend more online by default.

That means that many consumers had been hopping on retail and ecommerce sites at more regular intervals starting way back in March when global social distancing orders came into effect. As a result, brands could start ramping up the online holiday advertising earlier than ever, banking on the larger online audience and perhaps even offer consumers a “distraction” from world events in the form of shop therapy.

For instance, Amazon moved Prime Day from it’s normal perch in July to October this year; partly a necessity given the economic uncertainty that was still being felt during the pandemic’s initial surge over the spring and summer, but with the fortunate side effect of capitalizing on shoppers ready to shake off summer malaise with early holiday shopping.

How shoppers interact with brick-and-mortar is evolving in ways that will be hard to reverse when social distancing measures eventually start to dissipate too. The convenience of online shopping has been aided by improvements to the fulfillment process that has made shopping online seamless, quick, and even customizable.

Apple recently started leveraging it’s under-utilized brick-and-mortar retail footprint to aid in delivery of the latest iPhone 12 over the holidays. This new model enables the company to speed up delivery by shipping from retail locations within close proximity to buyers compared to the nearest online warehouse, while also helping to redistribute inventory that isn’t being purchased in-store.

Synchronizing all of these virtual and physical channels is the top challenge for retailers today, as they need to juggle whole new arenas of outreach without losing sight of their physical locations or loyal customers in the process. From ensuring seamless customer communications to making sure there are no delays in reporting inventory levels across sales channels, the retail network has never been more distributed or complex, and brands need a solution that can help tie all of these network connections together.


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Filed Under: Industry Insights

Tags: retail fulfillment , retail network , retail network performance , network performance , enterprise IT , enterprise network , online retail , retail , online store , ecommerce , online shopping , holiday shopping , thanksgiving , cyber monday , black friday , network performance monitoring