Black Friday and Cyber Monday Break Records, but Was It Enough?

By Thomas Price Thursday, December 3, 2020

The COVID-19 pandemic has obviously changed many things about normal life in 2020. One of those aspects that has changed dramatically has been retail shopping. Especially considering the holiday season, this has been a major point of conversation as analysts went back and forth on expectations for Black Friday and Cyber Monday this past weekend. While the difficulties of the pandemic on retail stores have forced many to close their physical locations or at the very least operate at limited capacity, many people expected the loss of sales for in-person stores to be made up by a strong influx of online sales. So, what are the official numbers on Black Friday and Cyber Monday this year, and was it enough to give positive indicators toward the future of economic recovery?

Black Friday and Cyber Monday Sales in 2020

The first thing to look at for both Black Friday and Cyber Monday is the online sales. Going into the weekend, most analysts were predicting record-breaking numbers for online sales, considering how stark the shift away from in-person shopping was expected to be this year. While not quite up to initial projections, Black Friday was still record-shattering for online sales, up 22% from 2019, which totals $9 billion in sales for a single day. While this is the highest online sales number ever for Black Friday, it fell short of Adobe Analytics’s prediction, which has online sales jumping by 39%, which would have added up to around $10.3 billion.

In the meantime, Cyber Monday was a record-breaking day as well. In fact, this year, Cyber Monday reeled in $10.8 billion, which has now surpassed last year’s Cyber Monday as the largest day of online shopping in the United States ever. Despite Cyber Monday beating 2019’s record by 15.1%, the shopping holiday still fell short of initial expectations going into the weekend. Adobe Analytics had initially projected Cyber Monday’s sales to outpace 2019 by even more, reaching $12.7 billion. Both of these days being below expectations brought slight disappointment, especially considering how drastic the dropoff for in-person shopping was this year.

For 2020, in-person shopping tumbled down by a whopping 55% on Thanksgiving and 37% on Black Friday. At the same time, fewer shoppers shopped overall and spent less money than average. The Thanksgiving weekend through to Cyber Monday saw 186 million total shoppers (down from 190 million) and spent $312 on average, down 14% from 2019, which saw $362 from the average shopper. While revenues were still stellar, the concentration of companies who reaped the benefits was more bottlenecked to the top. While these numbers may be disappointing to some, it must also be taken into consideration that many businesses purposefully spread out holiday deals from as early as October all the way into December in hopes of lessening crowds as to curtail the risk of COVID-19 infection.

Difficulties of Small Business During the Big Sales Weekend

The trouble small businesses have had throughout the year, especially considering how many have shut down completely, looks likely to continue, according to analysts. In fact, the gap between the most profitable retailers such as Amazon, Target, and Walmart, looks to widen even further during the holiday season. This may be due to these retailers’ much larger online presence, especially considering how many small businesses have little to no online presence at all. While many small businesses struggled with sales during the weekend, Amazon reported having the biggest holiday season since the company’s inception. The largest sellers for Amazon were Echo Dot digital assistant, former president Barack Obama’s new book, “A Promised Land,” and Revlon’s hair drying brush.

Final Conclusions

Black Friday and Cyber Monday sales broke records in 2020. With total global sales reaching $270 billion, it is clear that while some shoppers were spending less, the overall sales continued to grow. That being said, sales were certainly less spread out in 2020 than in other years due to the significant decrease in sales from physical locations, causing strife to small businesses already struggling due to the COVID-19 pandemic. While the economy looks to be recovering, the recovery is not universal.

About the Author


Headshot for author Thomas Price

Tom Price is a writer focusing on Entertainment and Sports Features. He has a degree from NYU in English with a minor in Creative Writing. He has been previously published for Washington Square News, Dignitas, CBR, and Numbers on the Boards.

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