Photo by Afif Kusuma on Unsplash
AUTHOR|Robert Williams
Source:, December 2020


  • Online retail sales rose 22% to a record $9 billion on Black Friday as shoppers bought holiday gifts and looked for deals, according to Adobe Analytics data. The research and analytics arm of the software company estimated that online sales will rise 15% to 35% to a record $10.8 billion to $12.7 billion for Cyber Monday.
  • Shopping on smartphones jumped 25% to $3.6 billion, making up 40% of total online spending on Black Friday, while in-store and curbside pickup increased 52% from a year earlier as many consumers avoided shopping in physical stores because of the coronavirus pandemic. U.S. consumers spent $6.3 million a minute shopping online on Black Friday, or an average of $27.50 per person, according to Adobe.
  • Smaller retailers also saw Black Friday gains leading into Small Business Saturday, when consumers are urged to shop at local stores and boutiques. Online sales for those businesses were 545% higher on Black Friday compared to an average day in October, Adobe estimated. The company analyzes 1 trillion visits to U.S. retail sites among more than 50 merchandise categories.


Black Friday was the second-best online shopping day for U.S. retailers since last year’s Cyber Monday, though buying activity from this year’s Cyber Monday is expected to smash records as consumers spend part of their workday looking for gifts and deals online, Adobe said. The firm’s analysis indicates that Black Friday shopping on smartphones was particularly strong this year as mobile devices became a more significant way for consumers to connect to the internet and handle a broader variety of tasks.

The findings reinforce that U.S. consumers, once wary of completing purchases via their smartphones, have grown more accustomed to conducting such transactions amid the pandemic, while also steering toward mobile-oriented retail channels like in-store and curbside pickup that can better ensure personal safety. Marketers that do not have these capabilities implemented for their businesses may lose out during important sales windows like Cyber Monday and the upcoming holidays.

Adobe’s data helps to confirm other forecasts about mobile shopping, with researcher App Annie predicting in September that homebound consumers would increase their usage of shopping apps during the pandemic.

In addition to its analysis of total shopping activity, Adobe also provided insights that may be useful for marketers in their holiday sales strategies. The company observed the biggest discounts in product categories such as computers (27%), electronics (25%), toys (20%), televisions (19%) and appliances (18%). Hot Wheels, Hoverboards and Lego sets saw the biggest demand among toys, while NBA 2K21, Animal Crossing and Super Mario 3D All-Stars were the top-selling video games. The most popular electronics products were Apple AirPods, Apple Watches, Amazon Echo smart devices and Samsung TVs, according to Adobe.

Smartwatches like the Apple Watch saw Black Friday sales that were 606% higher than the average daily level in October, while smart-home devices saw a 592% gain. Other product categories that saw month-over-month gains included personal care items (up 556%), pet products (254%) and auto parts (269%). Online grocery sales jumped 397% on Black Friday from the October average, a sign that the shopping occasion helped to lift every category of e-commerce.

E-commerce companies with more than $1 billion in revenue tended to see stronger gains than smaller businesses did on Thanksgiving Day and Black Friday, though consumers this year were more willing to support local businesses, according to Adobe’s analysis. Bigger retailers saw a 403% increase in sales during those two days from the October daily average, while smaller retailers experienced a 349% jump.