What Marketers Can Learn from Black Friday

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A possible recession isn’t freezing consumer spending — but it is pushing consumers toward discounts. That’s the takeaway from the signature bellwethers for holiday shopping, Black Friday and Cyber Monday, which saw strong activity levels according to initial figures from Adobe Analytics.

Specifically, Black Friday exceeded $9 billion in sales in the U.S., which is not only a strong figure — up 2.3 percent from last year — but a new spending record for the shopping holiday. Meanwhile, the first three weeks of November were flat versus last year. But as they say these days, “Flat is the new up.”

These figures together also tell a clear story — consumer shopping isn’t yet impacted by an economic downturn… but consumers are price sensitive. This can be seen in flat early November sales versus record black Friday levels, the latter representing the best deals for price-sensitive shoppers.

“Our data shows such a strong correlation between discount rates and online sales as consumers held on for the biggest and best deals,” Salesforce VP & GM Rob Garf told TechCrunch. Like Adobe, Salesforce reports strong Black Friday sales, including physical retail shopping and eCommerce.

Shopping Methods Diversify

Beyond Black Friday itself, shopping activity stretched in several directions. For example, consumers jumped on early online sales on Thanksgiving Day. Specifically, Adobe reports $5.29 billion in U.S. sales on Thursday, which is up 2.9 percent from last year and beat the $5.1 billion that Adobe expected.

This extension to adjacent days has strengthened in the age of e-commerce when “holiday shopping” has taken on new meaning. Smartphones have had a similar impact. In fact, 48 percent of Black Friday online sales were made on smartphones, says Adobe, which is up from 44 percent last year.

This stands to reason as consumers are traveling, spending time with family, and otherwise away from desktop and laptop computers at home and work. Given the shopping device sitting in their pockets, holiday m-commerce is likely greater (as a share of eCommerce) among these holiday travelers.

“Mobile shopping had struggled to grow for many years, as consumers found the experience lacking compared to desktop,” Adobe Digital Insights lead analyst Vivek Pandya said in a statement. “Thanksgiving this year has become an inflection point, where smartphones drove real growth.”

BNPL‘s Holiday Run

Beyond the continued rise of e-commerce and mobile, a newer trend has emerged this year: BNPL. This transactional model has upended e-commerce, providing a new option to defer payment, which has been timed well for an economic downturn.

Specifically, holiday BNPL orders grew 78 percent in volume and 81 percent in transaction value compared with last year. This stands to reason as BNPL has grown in adoption and exposure over the past year. And the payment method likely gained new consumers during the past week’s shopping blitz.

As for methodology, Adobe Insights derives much of the above data by analyzing 1 trillion+ visits to U.S. retail sites. This includes sales for 100 million + products from 18 product categories. This taps into its retail software that’s used by 85 percent of the biggest retailers operating in the U.S.

In terms of a running total for 2022 holiday shopping, Adobe says that about $77.74 billion has been spent online since November 1. The biggest categories include toys, gaming, and consumer electronics. These products align well with gift-worthy items.

Mike Boland has been a tech & media analyst for the past two decades, specifically covering mobile, local, and emerging technologies. He has written for Street Fight since 2011. More can be seen at Localogy.com