Thanksgiving Day online sales hit record $5.1 billion, up 21.5% from last year, Adobe says

Business

Some shoppers may be avoiding stores during the coronavirus pandemic, but they’re still putting many items in the virtual shopping cart.

Thanksgiving Day spending rose by nearly 22% year over year to $5.1 billion, hitting a new record, according to Adobe Analytics data. Online sales were $4.2 billion on Thanksgiving Day in 2019. The company analyzes traffic on retail websites and transactions from 80 of the top 100 U.S. online retailers.

Nearly half of those purchases were made on a smartphone, according to Adobe.

Retailers that offer curbside pickup had a 31% higher conversion rate of traffic to their sites — a reflection of how popular it’s become for people to buy online and retrieve purchases without stepping into stores.

The strong online shopping data reflects a trend that many retailers and industry watchers expected: More consumers are avoiding malls and buying gifts from their couch during the pandemic.

Like just about every aspect of 2020, the global health crisis has shaken up holiday shopping. Retailers, including Walmart and Target, kicked off sales in mid-October to coincide with Amazon Prime Day. They’ve stretched out one-day sales events, giving shoppers less of a reason to rush to the store this Black Friday.

One of the country’s top retail trade groups said the global health crisis won’t dampen enthusiasm for shopping. The National Retail Federation estimated holiday sales will rise between 3.6% and 5.2% year over year, amounting to between $755.3 billion and $766.7 billion. Last year, they rose 4% to $729.1 billion, NRF said. On average, holiday sales have increased 3.5% for the past five years.

The trade group, however, said it expects more of those dollars will be spent online, rather than in stores. It projected a 20% to 30% jump in online and other non-store sales compared to last year.

Adobe said it anticipates Black Friday and Cyber Monday to be the two largest online sales days in history. It expects Black Friday sales will add up to between $8.9 billion and $10.6 billion and online sales for the full holiday season will add up to $189 billion.

Follow CNBC’s updates on Black Friday here.

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