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Black Friday online shopping surged over 21 percent amid the pandemic

Jon Fingas
·Associate Editor
·2-min read

Many were expecting a spike in online Black Friday sales due to the COVID-19 pandemic, but it’s now clearer just how large that shift really was. Adobe now estimates that internet Black Friday sales in the US jumped 21.6 percent year-over-year to hit a whopping $9 billion. That’s unsurprisingly a new record for Black Friday, and analysts weren’t shy about attributing at least some of it to the need to stay at home. In states with pandemic-related restrictions on family gatherings, online shopping over Thanksgiving and Black Friday surged 265 percent.

This wasn’t quite an all-time record for holiday shopping. It was second only to Cyber Monday 2019. However, Adobe expects this year’s Cyber Monday to climb between 15 to 35 percent and comfortably set a new record.

Just what people were buying has only changed to some degree. Tech still led the way with AirPods, Apple Watches, Amazon Echo speakers and Samsung TVs dominating alongside games like Animal Crossing and Super Mario 3D All-Stars. Smartwatches were particularly popular, with sales growing 606 percent compared to October.

It won’t surprise you to hear that online shopping for regular products has grown as well. Grocery shopping jumped 397 percent year-to-year on Black Friday, and personal care product sales leapt 556 percent. Simply put, gifts have to compete much more fiercely with everyday goods now that visiting the local store poses a health risk.

Whether or not this momentum carries over to 2021 isn’t clear. Vaccines and other efforts could help the pandemic subside and bring people back to physical stores, but there’s no guarantee everyone will revert to old patterns even if it’s completely safe to go back. The pandemic has led many to shop online where they haven’t in the past, and they might not be in a rush to go back to physical retail.