Thanksgiving Day online sales, discounts jump

Anastasiia Krivenok | Moment | Getty Images

Online spending on Thanksgiving Day jumped 5.5% compared to a year ago, according to Adobe Analytics, a reflection of holiday shoppers who are buying more of their gifts online and responding to discounts.

E-commerce sales totaled $5.6 billion on the holiday. That’s nearly twice as much as the $2.87 billion consumers spent on Thanksgiving Day in 2017, according to the company’s analysis.

For Black Friday, online spending is expected to climb even higher and bring in an expected $9.6 billion, up 5.7% year over year.

Still, it’s too soon to say if the pop will be enough to propel a strong season overall.

Holiday shoppers are expected to spend 3% to 4% more year over year in November and December, according to the National Retail Federation’s forecast. That would be a significant slowing from the holiday sales growth seen during the Covid-19 pandemic and a return to more typical growth levels prior to the Covid crisis.

Adobe’s data covers more than one trillion visits to U.S. retail websites, 100 million unique items and 18 total product categories. It does not cover in-store purchases, where the majority of U.S. holiday purchases still take place. Last year, about 70% of total holiday sales took place in physical retail locations, according to the NRF.

As retailers face slowing sales, companies have dangled sharp promotions in October and in recent weeks issued cautious outlooks for the holiday quarter. To motivate shoppers, retailers such as Target, Macy’s and Best Buy are pulling out all the stops, from Disney- or toy-themed experiences to limited-time discounts on hot consumer electronics.

So far, shoppers have seen big discounts in major gifting categories. On Thanksgiving Day, toys were up to 28% off, electronics were up to 27% off and computers were up to 22% off, according to Adobe.

And shoppers responded: Online purchases of toys shot up 182% compared to average daily sales in October. Jewelry sales rose 126%, apparel rose 124% and personal care products rose 67%.

On Thanksgiving, some of the best sellers were Barbie items, Marvel superhero action figures, gaming consoles including Playstation5 and video games such as Super Mario Bros. Wonder. Some consumer electronics, such as robot vacuums, Bluetooth speakers and tablets, have been popular, too, Adobe found.

Shoppers are also browsing and buying more on their smartphones. Mobile shopping played a big role in Thanksgiving sales, with nearly 60% of sales coming through a mobile device — an all-time record for Thanksgiving, Adobe said.

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