Black Friday online sales reportedly dipped for the first time ever

Earlier online deals may have stolen some thunder.

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photos showing an app for online shopping on Black Friday
LEREXIS via Getty Images

Black Friday online sales tend to climb ever higher each year as people grow comfortable with shopping from home, but not this time around. Adobe estimates combined Black Friday and Thanksgiving Day internet sales saw their first ever overall year-over-year decline in 2021, dipping from $9 billion in 2020 to $8.9 billion. That's not a calamitous drop, but Adobe saw it as a sign of shifting trends.

The tech firm believed the dip reflected a shift toward earlier shopping as buyers took advantage of internet deals starting as early as October. Why cram your shopping into a single day when you can take advantage of discounts weeks in advance? While Adobe expected more spending on Cyber Monday (between $10.2 billion to $11.3 billion), its data suggested the buying frenzy just wasn't as strong this year.

The products people were buying changed as the weekend progressed. Black Friday sales were dominated by Instant Pots, air fryers and toys, but Saturday sales were led by tech that included AirPods, entry-level iPads, the Meta Quest 2 and TVs from the likes of Samsung, TCL and Vizio. Game sales included Just Dance 2022 and last year's Spider-Man: Miles Morales.

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Adobe also noticed that more people were comfortable making the final purchase from their phones. While some Black Friday shoppers were merely browsing on their phones before buying at a computer (62.2 percent of all visits were from handsets), mobile purchases represented 44.4 percent of all online Black Friday sales, a 10.6 percent jump versus 2020. Don't be surprised if many people never touch a computer for their holiday shopping in the years ahead.

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Black Friday online sales reportedly dipped for the first time ever