Black Friday online shoppers embrace flex pay but drive record sales

High inflation and recession fears didn’t dampen online sales on Black Friday, which hit a new record of $9.1 billion on Friday, up 2.3% from a year ago. 

But consumers, already spending more on fuel, food, and other essentials, did embrace more flexible ways to shop online, according to data released Saturday by Adobe Analytics, which tracks retailers’ website sales. In the week of Nov. 19-25, Buy Now Pay Later (BNPL) revenue spiked 81% compared to the week before. And orders made using BNPL jumped 78%.

“As Black Friday hit record spending online, we’re also seeing more prominent signs of a budget-conscious consumer this year,” said Vivek Pandya, Adobe Digital Insights lead analyst, in a statement. “Shoppers are embracing the Buy Now Pay Later payment method more this year to be able to buy desired gifts for family and friends.” 

Online sales of electronics were up 221% over the average day in October, including smart home items (up 271%) and audio equipment (230%). Also up were toys (285%) and exercise equipment (218%). 

Among the top sellers were Apple MacBooks, Dyson products, and drones, as well as gaming hardware (Xbox Series X, PlayStation 5) and titles (NBA 2k23, FIFA 23, Pokemon Scarlet & Violet). Also popular Friday were Roblox, Bluey, Fortnite, Funko Pop, and Disney Encanto.

Another record broken on Friday was in mobile shopping, with 48% of online sales coming from smartphones, compared to 44% a year ago.

“The mobile phone has become the remote control of our daily lives, and this led to an increase in shopping on the couch as consumers settled in after Thanksgiving dinner,” Rob Garf, VP and general manager of retail at Salesforce, which tracks online sales, told the Associated Press. 

Adobe expects Cyber Monday (Nov. 28) to once again be the year’s biggest online shopping day, growing 5.1% year over year and fueling $11.2 billion in spending. It further expects Cyber Week (the five days from Thanksgiving through Cyber Monday) to generate $34.8 billion in online spending, representing a 16.3% share of the November-December holiday season and up 2.8% from a year prior.

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