CLEVELAND — Thanksgiving and the days after kicked off the holiday shopping season, but Black Friday sales numbers were lower than anticipated for 2021. However, experts are still projecting a high turnout for Cyber Monday sales.
According to data from Adobe Analytics, Black Friday online sales were down in 2021 compared to the year before, with shoppers spending $8.9 billion dollars in 2021, compared to $9 billion in 2020. However, Adobe also predicted between $10.2 and $11.3 billion in sales on Cyber Monday, deeming it the biggest online shopping day of the year.
“There are no other indications that would suggest that consumers should be very subdued overall,” said Rakesh Niraj, associate professor of marketing at Weatherhead School of Management at Case Western Reserve University. “Economic numbers are kind of doing alright, so I would say that they would probably be if not at the top end, they would be at expectation.”
Niraj said a number of factors could contribute to a slower start to holiday shopping over Thanksgiving and Black Friday, including the availability of holiday sales beginning earlier and earlier in the season, allowing shoppers to begin buying before the holidays begin. Additionally, he said supply chain issues may have spurred shoppers to begin buying earlier to avoid delays.
There’s also the lasting impact of the pandemic.
“There is still concern about coronavirus, being in the crowded markets or shops and malls and so on,” he said. “At least on the margin, some people might have been dissuaded because of those things.”
Mike Kubinski owns Cleveland Clothing, a local store selling merchandise from t-shirts to glassware displaying Cleveland pride. He said business has been good so far this holiday season.
“Sales are going great so far. I woke up and it was like, wow, people are shopping already,” he said. “We’re probably halfway to our goal, halfway through the day, so we’re right on track. People are taking advantage.”
Cleveland Clothing has a 20% off discount online for Cyber Monday, and Kubinski said that Black Friday, Small Business Saturday, and Cyber Monday are the kickoff of their holiday season.
“We’ve geared up the past month or so getting inventory in, doing new designs, new products, just getting ready for our biggest time of year.”
Kubinski said this time of the year is the busiest not only for their online store, but for their four brick and mortar stores as well. They’ve also rolled out new holiday designs and ornaments ahead of the Christmas season.
Niraj said while we may not see the same spike on Black Friday we’ve seen in years past, he expects overall sales throughout the course of the holiday season to measure up to 2019.
“People are out and about, people have gone during this Thanksgiving break. Air traffic was almost pre-pandemic levels and so on,” Niraj said. “I think even shopping numbers will eventually go in the same range.”