Black Friday online sales hit record USD7.4B

NEW YORK (AP) – This year’s Black Friday was the biggest ever for online sales, as fewer people hit the stores and shoppers rang up USD7.4 billion in transactions from their phones, computers and tablets.

That’s just behind the USD7.9 billion haul of last year’s Cyber Monday, which holds the one-day record for online sales, according to Adobe Analytics. Adobe measures sales at 80 of the top 100 United States (US) online retailers.

Adobe expects online sales to jump to another record this Cyber Monday with an estimated total of USD9.4 billion. Much of the shopping is happening on people’s phones, which accounted for 39 per cent of all online sales on Friday and 61 per cent of online traffic. Shoppers have been looking for Frozen 2 toys in particular. Other top purchases included sports video games and Apple laptops.

All the online shopping may have helped thin the crowd at malls on Black Friday.

Traffic at stores fell 2.1 per cent on Black Friday from a year ago, according to preliminary figures from RetailNext. It tracks in-store activity at tens of thousands of locations, including specialty apparel retailers, big-box stores and mall-based stores. The drop in traffic helped lead to a 1.6 per cent dip in sales.

Online and in-store shopping aren’t always completely separate, though. Many people buy things online, only to head to the store to pick them up. Such sales surged 43.2 per cent on Black Friday from a year ago, according to Adobe.

This holiday shopping season may be the most harried in years because it’s the shortest since 2013. Thanksgiving this year fell on the last Thursday in November — the latest possible date it could be.

Much is riding on the success of the holiday season’s sales. The US economy is still growing steadily, but gains have slowed since its sizzling start to the year. Economists say strong spending by households is helping to bolster growth and make up for weak confidence among businesses given all the uncertainties about the US-China trade war and other factors.

People carry shopping bags while crossing a street in San Francisco. PHOTO: AP