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: Black Friday on track to top $9 billion in online sales for first time

Recession worries and inflation are taking their toll on Black Friday, but the shopping holiday was still expected to top $9 billion in online sales for the first time after initial results were tabulated.

Online sales for one of the biggest shopping days of the year were expected to reach $9 billion, up 1% on the year, and potentially $9.2 billion, according to data released Friday by Adobe, the software and market-research company. Through 6 p.m. Eastern time, consumers had spent $7.28 billion, Adobe Analytics data showed, with some of the hottest sellers including Apple Inc. AAPL, -1.96% smartwatch and AirPod headphones, Funko Inc.’s FNKO, -0.65% Pop! figurines and videogames such as “Pokémon Scarlet and Violet.”

With anxieties about COVID-19 easing, Adobe ADBE, -0.44% researchers expected more consumers will shop in person this Black Friday than last year. 

Charles Lindsey, associate professor in the Marketing School of Management at the University at Buffalo, told MarketWatch that consumers are finding their feet after the pandemic, feeling the pinch of higher prices and concerned about talk of a possible recession in 2023.

Given that backdrop, he said it’s understandable that consumers are sending “mixed signals.”

Americans will spend between $942.6 billion and $960.4 billion this holiday season, an increase of between 6% and 8% from $889.3 billion last year, according to projections from the National Retail Federation. 

Online Thanksgiving sales rose by an estimated 2.9% to $5.29 billion this year, with people tempted by big discounts on toys and electronics, Adobe said.

Adobe expects “Cyber Week” — the five days from Thanksgiving Day through Cyber Monday — to generate $34.8 billion in online spending, up 2.8% on the year, representing a 16.3% share of the entire November/December holiday season. 

Biggest shopping day of the year yet to come

Cyber Monday will remain the season’s and year’s biggest online shopping day at $11.2 billion, up 5.1% on the year. 

Mobile shopping accounted for 55% of online sales, up 8.3% over last year. In the holiday season so far, consumers have spent $77.74 billion in the first 24 days of November. 

Overall, more than 166.3 million people are planning to shop from Thanksgiving Day through Cyber Monday, nearly 8 million more people than last year, according to projections released by the National Retail Federation and Prosper Insights & Analytics. 

“While consumers continue to save the bulk of their holiday shopping for later in November and December, some of that spending has shifted into October,” Phil Rist, Prosper’s executive vice president of strategy, said. 

“This year, 18% of holiday shoppers have completed at least half of their holiday shopping. While this is on par with last year, it is up from only 11% a decade ago.”

Ted Rossman, senior industry analyst at Bankrate.com, told MarketWatch that a recession is likely in 2023 “although the best guess is that it will be a mild one.” 

Thus far, holiday spending is being supported by a strong jobs market, he said, but people’s pandemic-era savings are “slowly being eroded.”

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