Online Black Friday sales in the United States hit a record $9.12 billion this year, according to Adobe Analytics, kicking off a solid start to the holiday shopping season despite inflation and other economic concerns.
Adobe, which tracks sales on retailer websites, said online sales during Black Friday this year were 2.3% higher than last year, with electronics, smart home equipment, toys and fitness equipment providing the biggest boost. Some of that growth reflects higher prices, not higher volume, as the company’s numbers are not adjusted for inflation. But Adobe said sales would have been higher even if inflation was factored in.
According to Claire Tassin, retail and e-commerce analyst at Morning Consult, Americans are pouring into their savings accounts and accumulating debt on credit cards to make purchases.
“We see a lot of people relying on savings and debt to pay for many of these purchases,” Tassin told Christine Romans, CNN Business’s chief business correspondent. “Even more than credit cards, we’re seeing a lot of people relying on ‘Buy now, pay later’ services, which is kind of a newer form of debt that US consumers are really embracing.”
BNPL installment plans were about 80% higher compared to the previous week, Adobe said. Some lawmakers and economists have criticized BNPL programs for their lack of transparency and regulatory oversight.
Online shopping is expected to remain strong through Cyber Monday. Adobe predicts that US shoppers spent more than $9.55 billion on Saturday and Sunday, and that Monday will again be the “biggest online shopping day” — up more than 5% from last year to $11.2 billion .
Adobe previously reported that US customers spent a record $5.29 billion on Thanksgiving Day, up 2.9% from a year ago.
The Christmas shopping season now looks very different than ever. Instead of doorbuster deals on Black Friday, many retailers started their holiday sales in the early fall. Amazon (AMZN) held a second Prime Day event in October this year, and Walmart, Target (TGT) and others held competitive savings events.
By distributing their holiday deals online, retailers have reduced the Black Friday draw.
But shoppers are returning to many of their pre-pandemic routines, and retailers are anticipating a more typical holiday season than the past two years during the pandemic. Shoppers are again expected to shop around major holidays like Black Friday and also shop later in the season, hoping to land deals.
This year, inflation has put a strain on many shoppers’ budgets. Retailers say shoppers are retreating to discretionary spending like furniture and electronics and are being more selective about what they buy.
The number of people giving gift cards and money is “up significantly from last year,” Tassin said, likely because it’s an easy way for customers to “stay on budget because you can control the amount.”
In total, holiday sales will rise by no less than 8% this year, the National Retail Federation expects.
—CNN’s Kevin France and Nathaniel Meyersohn contributed to this report.