Updated Nov 25, 2023 - Economy

Americans set record online Black Friday spend

an illustration of a shoebox filled with dollar bills

Illustration: Tiffany Herring/Axios

Americans set a new online spending record for Black Friday this year.

Driving the news: Consumers shelled out $9.8 billion Friday, a 7.5% jump from last year, Adobe Analytics reported Saturday morning.

  • The momentum was set on Thanksgiving Day, which saw a 5.5% increase from last year to $5.6 billion, per Adobe data.
  • Separate figures from Salesforce showed Thursday's spend rose just 1% to $7.5 billion year-over-year; yet Black Friday's online spending shot up 9% year-over-year, to $16.4 billion.

Why it matters: The tradition of whipping out wallets after the turkey and cranberry sauce remains strong, even as retailers launch deals earlier and as consumers remain in a relatively gloomy mood about the state of the economy.

  • The earlier discounts trend took off in 2020 with the pandemic and also pushed more deals online in order to reduce crowds in stores.

The big picture: Even though inflation has cooled, consumer sentiment has fallen amid worries that the softening inflation trend could reverse.

  • Americans now expect prices to rise to an annual pace of 4.5% over the next year, up from 4.2% in October and from 3.2% in September, the University of Michigan's consumer survey revealed Wednesday.
  • Meanwhile, the latest Consumer Price Index as of October shows prices rising 3.2% year-over-year, down from 3.6% in September.

Be smart: Retailers ranging from Walmart, BJ's Wholesale Club, Coach and Kate Spade parent Tapestry, Dick's Sporting Goods, Best Buy and Abercrombie & Fitch have been sharing cautious forecasts about their all-important holiday quarter period.

  • Bank of America found that out of 43 retailers that issued earnings forecasts, 37 (or 86%) came in lighter than expected, CNBC reports.

The intrigue: Americans appear to want to return to a tradition of shopping after the Thanksgiving plates are scraped clean.

  • This year, 95% of people said they plan to holiday shop, up from 92% in 2022 and 88% in 2021, according to a late summer Deloitte survey.
  • Respondents also said they plan to spend an average of $1,652 on holiday shopping — exceeding pre-pandemic levels for the first time, the results show.

What they're saying: "Black Friday re-asserted its dominance this season with record spend of $9.8 billion driven by new demand for the major sales' day," Vivek Pandya, lead analyst, Adobe Digital Insights, said in a statement.

  • "The decline in online prices over the last year has created a favorable environment for consumers with strong discounts this season that are tempting even the most price conscious consumers."

Black Friday TV deals and other discounts

Zoom in: Adobe said Black Friday will be the best day for deals on televisions, with discounts averaging 22%.

Other top average discounts on Friday:

  • Toys 28%
  • Apparel 23%
  • Appliances 19%
  • Sporting goods 18%
  • Furniture 16%

What to watch: Adobe said prices for these categories are expected to go even lower by Cyber Monday.

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