Black Friday 2022 e-commerce reaches record $9.12B, Thanksgiving $5.3B; BNPL and mobile are big hits
Analysts and e-commerce leaders have been predicting a muted online holiday shopping season this year, with sales in the first three weeks of November essentially flat over a year ago due to a weaker economy, inflation, and more people returning to shopping in stores again in the wake of the Covid-19 pandemic. The Thanksgiving weekend looks more buoyant than anticipated, despite the fact that growth has slowed this year following the pandemic-period surge.
BlackFriday broke $9 billion in sales yesterday with online sales of $9. 12 billion, according to figures from Adobe Analytics. This is a record day and up 2.3% from sales figures a year earlier. It’s also slightly higher than Adobe had predicted. Adobe doesn’t break down volumes in its reports, so it’s difficult to determine if these higher numbers are due to items costing more this past year because of inflation or if they are the result of more buyers.
Black Friday is a key focus for those gauging how the e-commerce market, and consumer confidence, are both faring in what is the most important and biggest period for shopping in the year.
Salesforce publishes its own figures based on 1.5 billion shoppers, and it noted that online sales reached $8 billion in the U.S. and $40 billion globally at 5pm ET on Black Friday with the most discounted items in the U.S. appearing in home appliances, apparel, health and beauty, and… luxury handbags.
“Our data shows such a strong correlation between discount rates and online sales as consumers held on for the biggest and best deals,” said Rob Garf, VP & GM of retail at Salesforce. “Consumers with stretched wallets are seeking value and price. And retailers responded on Black Friday with the steepest discount rates of the holiday season.”
Adobe stated that toys, gaming, and consumer electronics were the most sought-after categories for Black Friday deals and discounts.
The day before Thanksgiving saw even stronger numbers than expected: shoppers spent $5. 29 billion online on Thursday. This is 2.9% more than a year ago and well ahead of the $5.1billion Adobe originally predicted for the day. Salesforce noted that online sales grew 1% on Thanksgiving day to $31 billion, while in the U.S. specifically they were up 9% to $7.5 billion. Salesforce also said that 78% of sales traffic came from mobile devices. Average order values, it said, were $105 globally and $120 for U.S. sales.
The shape of holiday shopping has changed dramatically with the advent of e-commerce. Online shopping has extended the hours and days people shop and blurred the concept of seasonality in holiday shopping. The day after Thanksgiving, Black Friday, used to mark the ‘first day’ of holiday shopping; that went out the window years ago with sales starting on the Thursday.
It has of course has also impacted how people shop. This is where mobile devices play an increasingly important role. A record 48% of all e-commerce sales on Black Friday were made on smartphones (versus 44% in 2021). Notably, Thanksgiving is still a strong day for mobile sales. This is because people aren’t at their computers, they’re with their friends and family and not at work. They are not in stores. On Thursday, some 55% of online sales were on mobile devices yesterday, up 8.3% over a year ago.
“Mobile commerce had struggled to grow over many years as consumers found it lacking in comparison to desktop shopping,” Vivek Pandya, lead analyst at Adobe Digital Insights said in a statement. “Thanksgiving this year has become an inflection point, where smartphones drove real growth and highlights how much these experiences have improved.” “Thanksgiving this Year has been an inflection point. Smartphones drove real growth and highlights the improvements these experiences have made .”
The rise in use of buy-now/pay-later services is a sign both of the increasing popularity of this alternative to credit and the need for consumers. Black Friday saw BNPL orders shoot up 78%, and they are up 81% by sales figures, compared to the same day a week ago. This is a significant increase compared to the previous day. Buy-now-pay later sales were up 1.3% and orders were up 0.7% on Thanksgiving. This indicates that more of the money is being used for higher-ticket items. This is fine, provided it doesn’t lead to long-term unsustainable debts.
Adobe says that it analyzes some 1 trillion visits to U.S. retail sites, tracking sales for some 100 million SKUs and 18 product categories. Its analytics will include anonymized data from some of its customers: it says it is used by some 85% of the biggest online retailers in the U.S. It said that so far some $77. 74 billion has been spent online since the first of November.
While Adobe and
Salesforce may have different numbers and measurement parameters, both are experiencing growth. The bigger question is whether the increase in activity on Thanksgiving will continue through Cyber Week, which includes Cyber Monday and Cyber Monday, as well as the days and weeks that follow. Overall, Adobe has predicted that Cyber Week will generate $34.8 billion in online spend this year, up 2.8% on a year ago when the week brought in $33.9 billion in sales.
2021’s Cyber Week was actually down 1.4% compared to 2020, so this represents a turnaround.
As a point of comparison on those figures, the National Retail Federation is predicting holiday sales growth of 6% to 8%, while another analysis group, Digital Commerce 360, is predicting growth of 6.1% for the period.
Despite this, sales may not be sustained in the future. Adobe predicted that sales for today — the famous Black Friday — are expected to hit $9 billion, which is up only 1% on 2021 figures.
The holiday shopping season is a crucial time to monitor for a few reasons. It is traditionally the most lucrative selling period for retailers, and can make or break their entire year. (That is the reason why Amazon’s recent earnings, where it provided reduced sales guidance and warned of lower-than-expected holiday spending, sent its stock tumbling nearly 20%. )
In view of their immense importance, the ecommerce holiday figures can be a good indicator for the overall e-commerce market.
But growth is what we want, there are signs of trouble ahead. Adobe found that the first three weeks of November saw flat online sales of $64. 59 billion, up just 0.1% over 2021.
This is against a background of physical retailers becoming more aggressive in capturing their audience. The National Retail Federation in the U.S. said it expects 166.3 million consumers to shop during the long weekend.
” While there is much speculation about inflation’s impact on consumer behaviour, our data tellss us that this Thanksgiving weekend will see strong store traffic with record numbers of shoppers taking advantage value pricing,” Matthew Shay, NRF President and CEO, stated in a statement. “We are optimistic that retail sales growth will continue to be strong in the coming weeks, and retailers are ready for consumers to shop at great prices .”
We’ll keep you updated on the latest sales figures as they become available.
I’m a journalist who specializes in investigative reporting and writing. I have written for the New York Times and other publications.