Sales Report: 2021 Thanksgiving Day, Black Friday, Cyber Monday

Sales for the three big U.S. shopping days were flat or slightly lower from last year. It’s not surprising since retailers encouraged consumers to shop earlier due to expected product shortages and shipping delays. Buyers heeded the suggestion — a survey by the National Retail Federation revealed that 61% of U.S. consumers had purchased holiday gifts before Thanksgiving Day.

Adobe Digital Insights — which analyzes more than 1 trillion visits to U.S. retail websites, representing over 100 million items in 18 product categories — reported that American consumers spent $109.8 billion online from November 1 – 29, an increase of 11.9% over last year.

However, during what Adobe calls Cyber Week — Thanksgiving Day through Cyber Monday — U.S. online consumers spent just $33.9 billion, which is 1.4% less than last year. Shoppers shelled out an average of $301.27 for online purchases, below the $311.75 spent in 2020 and $361.90 in 2019, according to NRF.

Thanksgiving Day

According to Adobe, American consumers spent $5.1 billion online on Thanksgiving Day, the same as in 2020. Many large retail chains were closed, as they did last year, but urged customers to shop online instead. Popular online items were toys and video games. The average online discount on Thanksgiving Day was 27% in the U.S., a decrease of 7% percent from 2020, according to Salesforce. However the average order value increased 11%, even though 3% fewer items were purchased.

Black Friday

Adobe reported that Black Friday U.S. online sales came in at $8.9 billion, down 1.3% from the $9 billion spent in 2020. Some ecommerce sellers did see a boost. Globally, Shopify’s merchants registered $2.9 billion in sales worldwide on Black Friday, increasing 21% from 2020.

Smartphones accounted for 44.4% of all online sales on Black Friday, up 10.6% over last year, according to Adobe.

Software provider RetailNext reported that traffic at brick-and-mortar stores increased 61% over 2020. However in-store traffic was still 27% below pre-pandemic levels in 2019. Black Friday was the most popular day for physical-store shopping this year, with 66.5 million U.S. shoppers, according to NRF.

In-store apparel sales saw a big growth spurt, increasing 86.4% from last year when people mostly worked from home.

Cyber Monday

Adobe noted that American consumers spent a total of $10.7 billion online on Cyber Monday, which was down 1.4% or $100 million from last year. Nevertheless, it clocked in as the biggest online shopping day of the year thus far. Popular categories were:

  • Toys,
  • Gift cards,
  • Books,
  • Video games.

According to Adobe, average discounts for electronics were 12% on Cyber Monday, compared with 27% last year. Apparel was marked down by 18%, compared with 20% in 2020. Appliances were discounted by about 8% this year versus 20% in 2020.

Smartphones accounted for 39.7% of online sales, up 8.4% over 2020, according to Adobe.

The use of BNPL services on Cyber Monday saw a large increase, with revenue up 21% over 2020 and orders up 1% year-over-year.


With Covid-19 still an issue, brick-and-mortar retailers abandoned “doorbuster” sales as they did in 2020 to avoid crowds gathering outside and rushing in when doors open.

Merchants began their holiday deals in October to spread out the season and prevent a crush on Black Friday and Cyber Monday, which can strain personnel and logistics. Consumers took advantage and shopped earlier than usual.

Cyber Week promotions this year often overlapped each other. The Black Friday offers in my email box were valid on Thanksgiving Day, and I was still receiving them on Saturday. My Cyber Monday discounts started on Sunday.

Discounts were not as generous as in past years, perhaps because retailers had to compensate for higher costs from supply chain issues. This will likely persist through Christmas Day.

Out of Stock Items

Out-of-stock goods during Cyber Week were common. According to Adobe, the highest categories were:

  • Appliances,
  • Electronics,
  • Home and garden,
  • Personal care products,
  • Housekeeping supplies.

Throughout November, out-of-stock messages were up 169% vs. January 2020 and up 258% vs. November 2019. The situation will likely get worse in December.

Marcia Kaplan
Marcia Kaplan
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