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Online sales over holidays on track to top $200 billion after Thanksgiving Day kickoff, Adobe says

People ride on the elevator as shoppers show up early for the Black Friday sales at the King of Prussia shopping mall in King of Prussia, Pennsylvania, November 26, 2021.

Rachel Wisniewski | Reuters

Online spending during the holiday season is on track to top $200 billion for the first time, but Thanksgiving day sales were on the low end of projections, according to data from Adobe Analytics, which tracks consumer sales on retailers’ websites.

Sales online on Thanksgiving day rang in at $5.1 billion, according to Adobe. That matches last year’s Thanksgiving day spending. It is a roughly 21% increase from that day in 2019, the company said.

However, the level of e-commerce spending was at the bottom of Adobe’s predicted range, which was between $5.1 billion and $5.4 billion. The company expects total online sales this season to hit $207 billion — a 10% year over year increase and all-time high.

The results raise questions about whether holiday demand will be as strong as predicted or whether Thanksgiving has diminished in importance as shoppers buy gifts throughout the season. The pandemic has changed the rhythm of the season, as retailers push up holiday sales events and encourage shoppers to buy early to avoid out-of-stocks and shipping delays in a year of supply chain woes.

Holiday shopping overall — both online and in stores — is also expected hit an all-time high of between $843.4 billion and $859 billion of sales, which would represent a 8.5% and 10.5% increase, according to the National Retail Federation. The sales forecast excludes spending at automobile dealers, gasoline stations and restaurants.

Online spending on Black Friday is expected to total between $8.8 billion and $9.6 billion, according to Adobe. That compares to $9.03 billion in 2020 and $7.43 billion in 2019, the company said.

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