In-store footfall in the US fell by around half during Black Friday compared to last year, while online spending leapt, as the coronavirus pandemic continues to refashion the consumer landscape.

Even so, total US spending online on Black Friday was down on initial forecasts, the Financial Times reported. Adobe Analytics, which measures 80 of the top 100 US e-commerce sites, had predicted online sales to be up by as much as 40% on last year; instead they reported a rise of 22% over last year to $9 billion. That lower figure was still the second-biggest online sales day ever, after Cyber Monday last year, Adobe said.

And Cyber Monday this year appeared to be heading towards record-breaking territory, The Wall Street Journal said, as the biggest online shopping day in US history – an estimated spend of at least $10.8 billion, which would amount to growth of 15% over last year.

While shoppers were wary of heading to stores in person, those who did venture out were more likely than usual to buy, with the conversion rate up four percentage points, according to RetailNext; the average transaction value was also 5.9% up. But revenues at bricks and mortar stores, excluding groceries, were down 30% from a year ago.

“One of the worrying things for department stores is they don’t do as well at attracting consumers online, so the fact that footfall is very suppressed is really bad news for some of these stores,” Neil Saunders, retail managing director of GlobalData, told the Financial Times.

The migration to online buying in the US was reflected globally, with Black Friday online sales worldwide expected to be $56.5 billion, 18% higher than last year, according to US software company Salesforce.

Drilling into the data reveals, however, that there were wide variances between those who got their digital strategy right and those who did not: Salesforce data indicates that in the US on Thanksgiving, those brands that offered drive-through and in-store pick-up saw 26% more online sales than those that didn’t.

Mobile accounted for 58% of orders in the US on Thanksgiving, and desktop for 39%, according to Salesforce, with desktop orders significantly higher value – an average of $122 per order, around 20% higher than the average mobile order. Desktop also had a conversion rate of twice that of mobile.

Rob Garf, vice president of strategy and insights at Salesforce, told MediaPost that since the start of the pandemic, mobile devices had become “the remote controls of our daily lives”, and the holiday season was no different.

“Retailers are forced to meet shoppers at the edge — on TikTok, Animal Crossing, Instagram, and other emerging commerce platforms,” Garf added.

Sourced from Financial Times, The Wall Street Journal, MediaPost; additional content by WARC staff