Black Friday Was a Bust for Many Stores, Better for Online

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U.S. shoppers went online to purchase holiday gifts and score Black Friday deals they once crowded into malls to grab, as the coronavirus pandemic accelerated the yearslong remaking of the U.S. retail landscape.

Roughly half as many people visited stores on Black Friday as they did last year, according to research firms that track foot traffic. Meanwhile, online spending jumped 22% from a year ago, making it the second-best online shopping day ever measured by Adobe Analytics.

It is unclear whether an early start to the holiday shopping season, the online Black Friday surge and an expected record day on Cyber Monday will be enough to offset the money lost from in-person shopping for many chains.

Heading into the critical season, U.S. consumer spending has been strong despite the economic shocks and shutdowns tied to Covid-19. The National Retail Federation, a trade group, has forecast that holiday sales will increase at least 3.6% to about $755 billion, including at least 20% growth from online shopping to about $202 billion.

This year, web shoppers on Amazon . com Inc. or Best Buy Co. could get many of the same deals that stores once dangled only to those who lined up overnight. Those who did venture out made fewer stops and increasingly turned to big-box chains like Walmart Inc. and Target Corp. that sell everything from lettuce to Legos, according to the foot-traffic data, shoppers and retail analysts.



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