Online sales during Black Friday and Cyber Monday were expected to break records this holiday, and it appears Amazon was one of shoppers’ key destinations.
Amazon announced Tuesday this year’s holiday shopping season was the biggest in the company’s history.
The e-commerce giant did not offer specific financial figures on how much was spent during Black Friday and Cyber Monday. Amazon did note independent businesses selling on the platform topped $4.8 billion in worldwide sales between Black Friday and Cyber Monday, up 60% from the year before.
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The best-selling items in the U.S. included Amazon’s new Echo Dot, one of several products made by the company and discounted during the holiday season. Also popular: former President Barack Obama’s latest book “A Promised Land,” the Revlon One-Step Hair Dryer and Volumizer Hot Air Brush, and the Lite-Brite Ultimate Classic.
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Sales during Black Friday and Cyber Monday shattered previous records as more consumers skipped physical shopping because of the COVID-19 pandemic. Consumers spent $9 billion during Black Friday, up 21% from the previous year, says Adobe Analytics. Cyber Monday was the largest U.S. shopping day ever, according to Adobe, pulling $10.8 billion, up more than 15% from the previous year.
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This article originally appeared on USA TODAY: Amazon says 2020 shopping season has been their biggest ever with big Black Friday, Cyber Monday sales
An Amazon fulfillment center in Frankenthal, Germany.
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Amazon said Tuesday that this year’s holiday shopping season has been the biggest in its history, as the coronavirus pandemic forced more people than ever to do their shopping online.
The e-commerce giant said in a blog post that customers have been shopping early for gifts and seasonal items for their loved ones. It comes as many retailers reliant on physical stores have been struggling to survive.
Popular purchases so far include the new Echo Dot, Barack Obama’s “A Promised Land” book, and the Revlon One-Step Hair Dryer and Volumizer Brush, Amazon said. Self-care, “nesting at home”, and “cozy comfort” were among the most popular trends during the period.
“In a holiday season unlike any other, it’s clear that customers still want great deals on gifts for their loved ones or a little something extra for themselves, and we’re glad to help deliver smiles throughout the season,” said Jeff Wilke, CEO of Amazon Worldwide Consumer, in a statement.
“Thank you to our customers, employees, and selling partners around the world for making this our biggest holiday season to date, and for everything you’re doing to support our communities and each other now and throughout the year.”
Amazon didn’t disclose actual sales figures for Black Friday or Cyber Monday, which are typically the company’s two busiest days in the holiday shopping period.
Amazon has been criticized for promoting its own products above those from independent retailers, but the company said the latter had seen “record demand” on its platform this year.
Independent businesses selling on Amazon surpassed $4.8 billion in worldwide sales from Black Friday through Cyber Monday, Amazon said, noting that the figure is up 60% on last year. It added that 71,000 small and medium-sized businesses have seen sales above $100,000 in this holiday season so far.
Like many other retailers, Amazon began offering holiday deals earlier than ever this year. Prime Day, which was pushed back from mid-July to October, became the unofficial kickoff to the holiday shopping season.
Consumers still opened up their wallets on Black Friday and Cyber Monday, despite the earlier start, and did more of their shopping online. Spending online on Black Friday this year climbed 22% year over year to a record $9 billion, according to Adobe Analytics. Cyber Monday, the busiest online shopping day of the year, is also expected to notch record sales.
The flood of online shopping was bad news for many brick-and-mortar locations, as many customers remain cautious about making trips to crowded stores and malls. Foot traffic to stores on Black Friday dropped 52% compared with last year, according to data from Sensormatic Solutions.
Amazon is one of the best positioned retailers to benefit from the trend. The company has staffed up its warehouses significantly and expanded its warehouse footprint to store more goods, among other things, to make sure it’s prepared for the holiday rush. Those investments could lead to it claiming 42
But was it enough to offset the lost revenue from the COVID-19 pandemic?
“There’s still a good portion of people who just don’t feel comfortable coming in yet and we are negatively impacted by that,” said Richard Price, owner of the Alamo Shoes in Andersonville.
Their shelves are stocked – but the store is nearly empty because the small business just isn’t getting the foot traffic it once did before the pandemic.
But over the Black Friday weekend, things changed – for just a bit.
“Since we reopened in June, this past Friday and Saturday were the busiest days we’ve seen since June, so that is positive,” Price said.
But it’s still down in comparison to last year’s sales.
“Year over year, if we compared 2020 to 2019, I’m down about 40%,” Price said. “In those three days around Black Friday, we’re seeing around a 20% decrease in business.”
It’s a reality many local businesses in the area are facing. But some, like Bryn Mawr Jewelry, have a different story to tell.
“Without a doubt, we would not be where we are today without small business. Every sale puts food on our tables, that’s a fact,” Owner Scott Freeman said.
Freeman opened the store’s new location three weeks before the lockdown in March – but when he reopened a couple of months later, he was pleasantly surprised.
The same goes for this past weekend.
“Every day, I swear to God I have to pinch myself. Everyone’s been so supportive,” Freeman said. “People want to do something nice for themselves or nice for somebody else. I guess buy something that means a lot and will last the test of time.”
Though the coming weeks will be different for every small business – the message they’re sending is clear, they’ll need the communities’ help to survive.
“So many small businesses are closing and now more than ever small business really needs the support,” Freeman added.
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This year’s Black Friday looked nothing like a usual one. Crowds at suburban malls and city shopping districts were comparatively sparse. With the coronavirus touching virtually every corner of the United States, social distancing, restrictions on business activity and health concerns kept many people home.
They shopped online, however.
According to Adobe Analytics, which scans 80 percent of online transactions across the top 100 U.S. web retailers, consumers spent $9 billion on Friday. That’s a 21.6 percent increase over Black Friday in 2019 and the second-biggest number for online retailers Adobe has ever tracked. In the four days from Thanksgiving through Sunday, consumers spent $23.5 billion online, a 23 percent increase over last year, according to Adobe.
Another research firm, Facteus, which monitors millions of debit and credit card payments made in the United States, found that department stores’ in-person sales fell significantly on Friday, but that their online sales spiked. The firm found a similar pattern for electronics retailers.
And Friday’s online sales surge is expected to be outdone on Monday, which is Cyber Monday, a promotional event concocted in 2005 when most retailers still offered deep discounts online.
A large portion of consumer spending moved online long before the pandemic, but the global health crisis is accelerating that trend. About 59 percent of shoppers had started their holiday shopping by early November this year, the National Retail Federation estimated.
During earnings calls this month, several retail executives said that they were uncertain about how much holiday shopping had actually been done in October and early November thanks to promotions that started well before Halloween. Matthew Bilunas, chief financial officer at Best Buy, said “it’s really difficult to predict exactly how much was pulled into” the third quarter.
Most retailers operate on a calendar where the fourth quarter starts in November and ends in January, in part to fully capture the holiday shopping season.
“We think it’s going to be a prolonged shopping season,” Brian Cornell, chief executive of Target, said on a separate call. “We’re going to see very different shopping patterns. We don’t expect to see those big spikes during Black Friday and on weekends.”
The holiday shopping season comes at a critical moment for the U.S. economy, which is struggling again as the number of coronavirus cases surges with colder weather in many parts of the country. Millions of people are still out of work or have been forced into part-time employment. Overall consumer spending, which drives as much as two-thirds of economic activity, has slowed in recent months along with the expiration of some emergency government spending programs.
Sapna Maheshwari contributed reporting.
The 2020 edition of Black Friday did not offer the usual scenes of bustling stores and shoppers lined up outside discount chains and electronics retailers. Instead, most people bought online, if they bought at all.
Crowds at malls and city shopping districts were relatively sparse over the holiday weekend in the face of rising coronavirus cases and warnings from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to avoid large groups. Major chains closed on Thanksgiving, after years of being open that day. And many Americans did their shopping before the weekend even began, drawn by sales that began in October.
Analysts at Morgan Stanley estimated that retailers’ overall Black Friday sales fell 20 percent from last year, based on early reports of drops in store foot traffic and increases in online sales. Consumers spent $9 billion online on Friday, a 21.6 increase from last year and the second-biggest figure for online retailers ever, according to Adobe Analytics, which scans 80 percent of online transactions across the top 100 U.S. web retailers. The firm said online sales rose to $23.5 billion in the four-day Thanksgiving-to-Sunday period, up 23 percent from last year.
“This wasn’t a Black Friday, it was a bleak Friday in stores,” said David Bassuk, global co-head of the retail practice at AlixPartners, a consulting firm. “It is such a stark contrast to past years. The stores were really ghost towns.”
The early results from the weekend, which has traditionally kicked off holiday shopping in the United States, show how the season is being upended by the pandemic. Major retailers started offering deals well before Halloween, a shift that was amplified by Amazon’s decision to hold its annual Prime Day event in the middle of October. Consumers have been encouraged to shop early to avoid shipping delays. Chains have replicated deals once limited to stores on their websites and canceled visits with Santa Claus to minimize crowds.
Americans were already spending online before the pandemic, but the crisis has accelerated the trend. About 59 percent of shoppers had started their holiday shopping by early November this year, the National Retail Federation estimated. Shopper foot traffic declined by 52 percent on Friday, according to data from Sensormatic Solutions.
“The ability to pull the holiday forward may linger with us,” said Simeon Siegel, a retail analyst at BMO Capital Markets. “It’s been a long time since Black Friday was simply three hours in the morning on Friday. Black Friday was already stretched into early November, it just happened to make it into October as well.”
During earnings calls in November, several retail executives said they were uncertain about how much holiday shopping had actually been done in October and early November. Matthew Bilunas, chief financial officer at Best Buy, said “it’s really difficult to predict exactly how much was pulled into” the third quarter.
Most retailers operate on a calendar where the fourth quarter starts in November and ends in January, in part to fully capture the holiday shopping season.
Currys PC World customers have been left hundreds of pounds out of pocket after a Black Friday glitch debited their gift cards but left them unable to fulfil their purchases.
A “temporary outage” on Friday resulted in customers being charged for orders that were later cancelled due to stock levels.
Currys said all customers who were affected will have their funds restored, however the chain was unable to confirm how long it would take to rectify.
The glitch, which was first reported by MoneySavingExpert, only affected shoppers who paid via gift cards.
It said customers who used other payment methods – such as debit or credit cards – were unaffected.
Complaining to Currys on Twitter, one customer said he’s been left £450 out of pocket with no guidance on when he’ll receive a refund.
Another said he lost £650 after trying to purchase an item in the Black Friday sale.
“Three days now and multiple calls and DM’s but no issue resolution in sight, #NoOrder #lostmoney,” he tweeted.
Another shopper said they’d lost £900 on their gift card after trying to buy a laptop.
They said: “Highly disappointed! Attempted to purchase a Black Friday laptop with voucher card purchased through work… no laptop. £900 deducted on the gift card.
“In addition, wasted the afternoon attempting to resolve the issue with currently no luck!”
Speaking on social media, one disappointed shopper said they’ve lost out on Black Friday: “Worst experience dealing with you and your ‘don’t know how’ team tbh.
“You took my gift card credit and now I cannot use it on Black Friday deal.”
A Currys spokesman was unable to specify how many customers are affected as well as how customers will be refunded.
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However it said the error was triggered by “unprecedented volume of customers” accessing its website during the sales event.
A Currys PC World spokesperson said: “Due to the unprecedented volume of customers shopping online with Currys PC World this Black Friday, our website experienced a temporary outage.
“Unfortunately transactions being made by gift cards were affected.
“We will ensure that every customer affected by this issue has funds put back onto their gift cards in full, as soon as possible.”
Martin Lewis, founder of MoneySavingExpert.com, urged the retailer to issue refunds immediately.
He said many of those shopping on Black Friday had deliberately held out for the shopping event.
“Currys has been lax and languid. People first started tweeting me about missing gift card money on Friday. We alerted the firm immediately.
“Yet barring an unspecific statement, it’s not given people any real direction about how they can get their money, often £100s back – and customers report its help services have been mostly unresponsive.
The pandemic left a major impact on holiday shopping on Black Friday.
Many stores and malls weren’t opening on Thanksgiving, including major retailers like Target and Walmart, or even at early morning hours like they usually do on Black Friday. This was to avoid crowds and to do their best to not spread the virus.
In comparison to last year’s major shopping event, this year’s sales fell flat. The traffic at stores around the country dropped 52.1%, according to CNBC.
“We knew Black Friday [traffic] was going to be down, we just didn’t know how much it was going to be down. Shoppers are spreading out their shopping throughout the holiday season because of concerns about social distancing and the pandemic,” said Brian Field, a senior director of global retail consulting at Sensormatic Solutions.
Online shopping has been the go-to this year and retailers have been moving their great deals online so everyone can take advantage of them. Curbside pickup has also been a popular option if customers want to pick their item right shortly after ordering.
Online sales surged 21.6% this year, which is a new record, according to data from Adobe Analytics. Americans spent about $9 billion online this year.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) released a recommendation that encouraged shoppers to stick to online shopping to keep themselves and everyone around them safe.
Cyber Monday is another major shopping holiday that might be the largest digital sales day ever, as projected spending is between $10.8 billion and $12.7 billion.
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Retail stores were emptier than usual on Black Friday, as more than half the crowds who usually shop in person stayed home, according to a data tracker.
Sensormatic Solutions reported that US stores saw 52.1% less foot traffic than the same day in 2019. As infections from the Coronavirus pandemic rise around the world, some retailers kept their doors closed. Others reduced the number of shoppers who were allowed to be in store. Photos of malls around the country showed empty stores.
Brian Field, Sensormatic’s senior director of global retail consulting, said in a press release: “Due to COVID-19 and social distancing requirements, shoppers were more purposeful in their in-person Black Friday shopping, causing significantly less crowds than we’ve seen in the past.”
He said that this was compounded by retailers not offering as many “in-store doorbusters”, as well as the increasing adoption of e-commerce.
In-store traffic declined most on Thanksgiving Day, falling 94.9%. For the entire Thanksgiving week, in-store shopping fell 45.2%, according to the release.
Said Field: “Many well-known retailers elected to close on Thanksgiving this year to prevent crowds in stores and give their hard-working employees more time with their families. Additionally, with Black Friday deals being spread throughout the holiday season, the typical holiday traffic peaks are flattening, with more days sharing importance throughout the season.”
The Center for Disease Control and Prevention listed in-person shopping as a “higher risk” activity during the pandemic, and urged shoppers to switch to online buying. Adobe Analytics said online shopping grew 22% on Black Friday, the day after Thanksgiving, when retailers big and small roll out deals to jumpstart holiday sales, according to CNBC.
Taylor Schreiner, a director at Adobe Digital Insights, told CNBC: “New consoles, phones, smart devices and TVs that are traditional Black Friday purchases are sharing online shopping cart space this year with unorthodox Black Friday purchases such as groceries, clothes, and alcohol, that would previously have been purchased in-store.”
Even with the Coronavirus pandemic, Sensormatic expects holiday shopping to pick up in stores during December.
“As we approach Super Saturday, December 19, and corresponding shipping deadlines, we expect to see some of the in-store traffic that didn’t materialize on Black Friday appear as consumers wrap up their holiday shopping and make last-minute purchases,” said Field.