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Black Friday starts with a whimper

Brian Sozzi
·3 min read

Scrooge McPandemic is rearing his ugly head in the early onset of the crucial Black Friday shopping period.

Online sales for Thanksgiving Day hit a new record with consumers spending $5.1 billion, an increase of 21.5% from a year ago according to new data from Adobe Analytics. But, the results came up far short versus Adobe’s prior estimate of $6 billion.

“While yesterday was a record-breaking Thanksgiving Day with over $5 billion spent online, it didn’t come with the kind of aggressive growth rate we’ve seen with the start of the pandemic. Heavy discounts and aggressive promotions starting in early November succeeded at getting consumers to open their wallets earlier. While COVID-19, the elections and uncertainty around stimulus packages impacted consumer shopping behaviors and made this an unprecedented year in e-commerce, many consumers are still holding off on remaining gift purchases until today and Cyber Monday in hopes of scoring the best deals,” said Taylor Schreiner, a director at Adobe Analytics.

Shares of major retailers such as Macy’s (M), Nordstrom (JWN) and Canada Goose (GOOS) fell sharply after Adobe’s new data.

The ho-hum start to the peak of holiday shopping arrives as the economy weakens amidst the resurgent pandemic.

U.S. consumer confidence tanked to 96.1 in November from 101.4 in October, according to the Conference Board on Tuesday. It marked the lowest headline reading since August (when stimulus was still around). The report highlighted sizable drops in consumer expectations for income, business and job market conditions.

The Conference Board’s read on consumers comes after an equally dismal reading from the University of Michigan. Consumer sentiment for the two weeks ended November 10 fell to 77 from 81.8 in October, also because a noticeable drop on expectations.

Meanwhile, about 53% of 1,000 consumers recently polled by Goldman said they planned to spend less this holiday season. Roughly 23% said they would spend the same amount as last year. But dig beneath the headlines, and some of Goldman’s pre-holiday learnings fall under the disturbing category.

The survey showed 20% of consumers plan to spend “substantially” less, while only 7% indicated they will spend more compared to 2019. By demographic, 62% of Baby Boomers surveyed said they would spend less, compared to 42% last year.

“Overall, we believe results point to soft holiday spending intentions this year vs. 2019, with a majority of consumers surveyed planning to spend less this year,” Goldman retail analyst and the report’s lead author Alexandra Walvis wrote.

Brian Sozzi is an editor-at-large and anchor at Yahoo Finance. Follow Sozzi on Twitter @BrianSozzi and on LinkedIn.

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