Energized shoppers break one-day holiday sales record

Nicole Mullen/The Republic/USA Today Network

Black Friday shoppers at Tanger Phoenix Outlets in Glendale, Arizona, on Nov. 24, 2023.


Whether they jostled through brick-and-mortar stores or toggled between tabs and virtual carts, holiday shoppers were eager to participate in Black Friday this year.

Both in-store and online retail sales increased year-over-year unadjusted for inflation, according to Mastercard’s SpendingPulse insights, which noted that apparel, jewelry and restaurant categories saw considerable spikes. In-store sales jumped a little more than 1%, while e-commerce led the charge with an increase of 8.5%.

However, Sensormatic Solutions, which tracks shopper traffic at brick-and-mortar stores, found that visits on Black Friday were up 4.6% from 2022. This is a turnaround for retailers, the company said, as foot traffic has been down an average of 2.4% this year.

“Though we anticipated an increase, in-store shopper traffic outperformed our expectations,” Grant Gustafson, head of retail consulting and analytics at Sensormatic, said in a statement. “Consumers are again finding joy in brick-and-mortar shopping, seeing it as an experience to be shared with loved ones. It’s a testament to the hard work retailers have done to streamline journeys and deliver satisfying experiences.”

Adobe Analytics, which tracks US online shopping, reported a record $9.8 billion in Black Friday sales, up 7.5% from 2022, driven by surging demand for electronics such as televisions, smart watches and audio equipment.

Most shoppers did their browsing and buying on their phones, with mobile purchases accounting for $5.3 billion in sales. Adobe expects that purchases made through smartphones this holiday season will overtake those made by desktops for the first time.

Online shoppers also made considerable use of “buy now, pay later” (BNPL), installment payment plans that allow consumers to split their online cart total into four payments typically due several weeks apart. While some BNPL lenders charge interest or late fees, for major purchases or big spending days, these mini-loans can help stretch holiday budgets. Last week, 72% more shoppers used BNPL plans compared with the week before, Adobe found.

E-commerce platform Shopify also reported record sales totaling more than $4 billion worldwide, 22% higher than last year. According to the company, the average cart price for US consumers was $124, and the top-selling categories included personal care, clothing and kitchenware.

As holiday shopping ramps up ahead of Christmas, analysts predict a busy time for retailers over the next few weeks. Adobe forecasts that Cyber Monday will be the biggest retail event of the year, driving a record $12 billion in sales, more than 6% higher than last year.

Sensormatic predicts that eight of the season’s busiest in-person shopping days will be in December and, combined with Black Friday weekend, they are expected to account for 40% of all holiday foot traffic this year.

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