Online Black Friday Sales Broke Records

Consumers are more deal-driven and are utilizing savings and buy now, pay later options.

November 29, 2022

ALEXANDRIA, Va.—Online Black Friday sales hit a record-breaking $9.12 billion, reports CNBC, up 2.3% year over year. Sales were up 221% compared to an average online spending day in October. Electronics, toys and exercise equipment were some of the most popular items.

A portion of the growth in online sales could be attributed to inflation, reports CNN, but Adobe said increased sales would still be the case even if inflation were factored into its numbers. Inflation is still hovering near four-decade highs, and consumers are beginning to use their savings and rack up credit card debt. Buy now, pay later options are also increasing in popularity, Claire Tassin, Morning Consult’s retail and e-commerce analyst, told CNN.

“We’re seeing a lot of people leaning on savings and debt to afford a lot of these purchases,” Tassin told Christine Romans, CNN Business’ chief business correspondent. “Even more than credit cards, we’re seeing a lot of people leaning on ‘Buy Now, Pay Later’ services, which is sort of a newer form of debt that American consumers are really embracing.”

Buy now, pay later payments were up 78% week over week, beginning November 19, according to Adobe, and Buy Now Pay Later revenue is up 81% for the same period.

Adobe expects online sales for Cyber Monday to remain strong, and that Monday will be the “biggest online shopping day again,” predicting 5% year-over-year growth, reaching $11.2 billion. Adobe predicts that Americans spent more than $9.55 billion across Saturday and Sunday.

In-store traffic was up 7% on Black Friday over last year, reports the Wall Street Journal. However, sales inside the store rose a mere 0.1%, and the average shopper spent less in store than they did on Black Friday 2021.

According to Mastercard SpendingPulse, overall Black Friday sales were up 12% year over year. Steve Sadove, senior adviser for Mastercard, said consumers were deal-driven this year, and the day was more about getting out and the tradition of shopping.

“Apparel, electronics and restaurants were strong-performing sectors as consumers turned holiday shopping into a full-day experience,” he told the Journal.

It was a “lukewarm Black Friday,” David Bassuk, global co-leader of the retail practice at AlixPartners, a consulting firm, told the Journal. “It’s more of an experience than it is a purchasing moment,” he added.

Retailers are going into this holiday shopping season with excess inventory, and shoppers shifted their habits by shopping earlier, and retailers have been meeting them along the way with early deals.

Bassuk said that a retailer leaving the holiday season without moving through enough inventory would be a disaster. “That’s why the discounts get deeper every week,” he told the Journal.

Tassin told CNN that the amount of people giving gift cards and cash is “up significantly over last year,” as it’s likely an easier way for consumers to “to stay on budget because you can control the amount.”

Last month, U.S. retail sales were up 1.3% month over month, with discretionary spending rising. Overall holiday sales could reach up to $960.4 billion, according to the National Retail Federation, and consumers plan to spend $832.84 on average on gifts and holiday items such as decorations and food.