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Black Friday Sees Record Online Sales  11/29 10:15

   Black Friday online sales hit a new record this year as pandemic-wary 
Americans filled virtual carts instead of real ones.

   (AP) -- Black Friday online sales hit a new record this year as 
pandemic-wary Americans filled virtual carts instead of real ones.

   Consumers spent an estimated $9 billion on U.S. retail websites on Black 
Friday, according to Adobe Analytics, which tracks online shopping. That was a 
22% increase over the previous record of $7.4 billion set in 2019.

   Meanwhile, traffic to physical stores plummeted as retailers tried to 
prevent crowds by cutting their hours and limiting doorbuster deals. U.S. store 
visits dropped by 52% on Black Friday, according to Sensormatic Solutions, a 
retail tracker. Traffic was slower in the Northeast and West than in the 
Midwest and South, said Brian Field, Sensormatic's senior director of global 
retail consulting.

   Jewelry and footwear saw some of the biggest in-person sales declines, 
according to RetailNext, a shopping tracker. Apparel sales were down 50%, while 
sales of home goods fell by 39%.

   Even with that drop, Black Friday will still likely end up as one of the 
biggest in-person shopping days in the U.S. this year, Field said. He thinks 
many people will still shop for the holidays in person, but will choose 
mid-week days when crowds are smaller. Heavier in-store discounts and concerns 
about lengthy shipping times could also draw shoppers closer to Christmas.

   "Black Friday had a lot to lose, but some of it is going to be distributed 
throughout the holiday season," Field said.

   One trend that could remain after the pandemic ends is that stores could 
remain closed on Thanksgiving Day, Field said. Since 2013, a growing number of 
stores had opened on Thanksgiving to match their competitors and get a jump 
start on Black Friday. But it's typically not a big day for retailers, and this 
year many stayed closed. Thanksgiving store traffic was down 95%, he said.

   Field said stores may be rethinking the cost of paying employees and opening 
on Thanksgiving when they could easily make up for those sales online.

   "I wonder, now that we're seeing a season where they were able to cut the 
cord on it, if it will give them pause," he said.

   Adobe expects Monday to be the largest online sales day in U.S. history, 
with estimated spending of $10.8 billion to $12.7 billion.

   One reason for the big numbers is that people are shopping online for things 
such as groceries and alcohol that they bought in person before the pandemic, 
Adobe said. As for more traditional gifts, Hot Wheels cars, Lego sets, Apple 
AirPods, Samsung televisions and video games are among the biggest sellers.

   Big retailers such as Walmart and Target benefited from the surge, but small 
retailers did as well, Adobe said. Sales at big stores surged by 403% on 
Thanksgiving and Black Friday compared to the daily average in October, but 
sales at smaller retailers also grew by 349%.

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