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Black Friday purchasing in shops crater 52% throughout the pandemic as e-commerce gross sales rise

Shoppers viewing Macy's Black Friday specials in Maumee, Ohio, Nov. 27, 2020.

Stephen Zenner | SOPA pictures | LightRocket | Getty Images

In-store traffic on Black Friday declined 52.1% year over year as Americans by and large avoided going to malls and queuing for online purchases, according to preliminary data from Sensormatic Solutions.

For the key six weeks of the holiday season this year, retail store traffic is expected to decrease 22% to 25% year over year, according to an earlier forecast by Sensormatic Solutions.

"We knew Black Friday [traffic] was going to be out, we just didn't know how bad it was going to be," said Brian Field, senior director of global retail consulting for Sensormatic Solutions. "Buyers are spreading their purchases throughout the holiday season because of concerns about social distancing and pandemic."

The Covid pandemic has drawn a record number of consumers to shop online as retailers place many of their top vacation doorbuster deals online, encouraging shoppers to shop online and then pick up roadside purchases. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention also recommended that Americans shop online the day after Thanksgiving.

Many shopping malls looked gloomy in much of the country in the early hours of Friday morning, and parking lots were more empty than full in much of the country. Some reported that traffic increased later in the day, particularly in outlet and open-air shopping malls, as some consumers felt more comfortable on the way out. The warmer weather, which covered much of the country, also helped.

The typical peak time for Black Friday shopping stayed the same this year and was around 2:00 p.m., according to Sensormatic Solutions.

On Thanksgiving Day, when many retailers, including Walmart and Target, closed their stores this year due to the pandemic, traffic fell 94.9% year over year, according to the company. For weeks, traffic in the US has decreased by 45.2%.

"Black Friday this year looked like a typical Saturday after Black Friday from a traffic disruption perspective," said Field.

Black Friday online spending this year rose 21.6%, according to Adobe Analytics, breaking a new record as consumers made $ 9 billion online purchases the day after Thanksgiving.

This makes Black Friday 2020 the second largest online spending day in US history after Cyber ​​Monday last year, according to Adobe. Cyber ​​Monday this year is expected to be the biggest digital sales day ever. Spending ranges from $ 10.8 billion to $ 12.7 billion, up 15% to 35% year over year.

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