Cyber Monday sales miss estimates as shoppers spent only $10.8bn

Online spending was still 15% higher than the previous year

In this photo illustration, an ad seen on the Best Buy website for a Cyber Monday sale is displayed on a laptop on November 30, 2020 in Arlington, Virginia. Online deals for gadgets, games, wine and clothes put "Cyber Monday" sales on track for record levels in the United States, according to an industry tracker. Adobe Digital Insights expected Cyber Monday to remain "the king of online shopping days," racking up sales of between $10.8 billion and $12.7 billion.
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 / AFP / Olivier DOULIERY
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Online shoppers in the US spent $10.8 billion on Cyber Monday, missing Adobe’s original projection by almost $2bn, evidence that retailers pulled sales forward by offering deals earlier than usual.

Still, the gusher of online spending was a record, rising 15 per cent from 2019.

“Cyber Monday continued to dominate the holiday shopping season, becoming the biggest online shopping day in US history, despite early discounts from retailers,” Taylor Schreiner, director of Adobe Digital Insights, said in a statement. “Throughout the remainder of the holiday season, we expect to see record sales continue and curbside pickup to gain even more momentum as shoppers avoid crowds and potential shipping delays.”

Hot sellers included toys such as Lego sets and scooters, video games like Super Mario 3D All-Stars, and electronics including Apple AirPods, Hewlett Packard & Dell Computers and Chromecast, Adobe said.

The pandemic-fueled stampede online was a valuable opportunity for retailers such as Amazon.com, Walmart, Target, Best Buy, which had been preparing for the 2020 holiday deluge for months. There were occasional hiccups, but the industry’s investments in delivery capacity and parking lot pickup helped get it through the Thanksgiving weekend and Cyber Monday.

Black Friday spending of $9bn also missed Adobe’s forecast of $10.3bn, another sign of cautious consumer spending during the pandemic and shoppers reacting to deals earlier in the holiday season. Amazon vacuumed up $1 in every $5 spent over the Black Friday weekend, the first time the Seattle-based giant accounted for the highest share of spending for the period, according to market research firm Numerator.

But Cyber Monday will likely still be the peak, because many shoppers are conditioned to hold off on big purchases in anticipation of price cuts.

Cyber Monday deals mostly weren’t much better than Black Friday deals, said Kristin McGrath, editor at BlackFriday.com, which monitors web deals. Harkening back to traditional door-buster Black Friday tactics, many digital shops are likely to offer eye-popping discounts on popular products that usually sell out quickly to attract people to their site, hoping they linger and load up shopping carts with other things.

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