Last year, the world was moving to digital more than ever as a result of the coronavirus pandemic. Between store closures and safety concerns with being around other people in public, consumers shifted to online shopping enough last year to push ecommerce to levels that weren’t expected until 2025.
But this year’s Cyber Week seems to paint a different picture in many ways. Black Friday kicked off with some growth, with sales up 12.1% as of 10 AM on Black Friday 2021 compared to last year. But by the end of the day, online Black Friday sales were slightly lower than the year before for the first time ever.
This year’s Black Friday brought in $8.9 billion in sales compared to $9 billion in 2020.
That’s at the lower range of predictions from Adobe Analytics, which put online Black Friday sales at ranging from $8.8-$9.6 billion. Ecommerce spending on Thanksgiving saw no change, hitting $5.1 billion for the second year in a row. That’s also at the bottom range of Adobe Analytics’ estimated $5.1-$5.4 billion in online Thanksgiving sales.
Online spending was much higher on Cyber Monday than Black Friday. Consumers spent an additional $1.8 billion on Cyber Monday over Black Friday, bringing the online-centric shopping event to a total of $10.7 billion in revenue.
Consumers spent nearly $2 billion more on Cyber Monday compared to Black Friday.
But don’t go thinking that consumers are shopping online less this holiday season than in years past. In fact, online sales have reached $109 billion so far – a significant increase from the $90 billion we were at this time last year.
So why would this year’s Cyber Week not see as impressive gains as we’ve seen in years past?
Retailers kicked off their special holiday deals earlier than ever this year, largely due to the supply chain crisis. What started as factory shutdowns at the onset of the pandemic has snowballed into significant setbacks along the entire supply chain, from production to shipping to delivery.
With rising costs making it even more difficult to get products to stores and customers alike, many retailers developed a proactive strategy to start pushing enticing deals to shoppers in October and early November instead of waiting until Black Friday and Cyber Week to help ensure products arrive in time for the holidays.
That means consumers started their holiday shopping earlier than ever – so it comes as no surprise that we’re $19 billion further ahead in spending compared to this point in 2020.
Retail sales as a whole still saw significant yearly growth on Black Friday according to data from Mastercard SpendingPulse. In-store sales were up nearly 43% over Black Friday 2020, with department stores up 86.4%.
The most popular products purchased varied over the course of each day. On Black Friday, shoppers were all about the OLED Nintendo Switch, Barbie products, and the Oculus VR headset, while Cyber Monday shoppers centered around Hot Wheels, AirPods, and the Xbox Series S.
Desktop still reigns over mobile as the top device for online purchases, bringing in a total of $63 billion over Cyber Week to make up 57.8% of sales compared to $46 billion and 42.2% for mobile.