Online shoppers spent a record amount on Thanksgiving

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After eating turkey and pie, lots of Americans also went on a shopping spree.

Thanksgiving Day online spending hit a record of $5.29 billion, an increase of 2.9% year over year, according to Adobe, which tracks sales on retailers’ websites. Typically, shoppers spend about $2 billion to $3 billion online in a day, according to Adobe.

That increase was driven by demand, not inflation, according to Vivek Pandya, lead analyst at Adobe. Online sales haven’t been driven higher by inflation like store sales, since e-commerce is largely made up of electronics, apparel and other durables that have stayed stable in price or declined compared to groceries, he said.

For retailers, those early numbers may be a promising indicator about the weeks ahead. Early holiday forecasts have been muted. Target, Macy’s, Nordstrom and other companies reported a lull in sales in late October and early November. Consumer sentiment has weakened in the past month as inflation hovers near four-decade highs.

That has ratcheted up the pressure on Black Friday weekend — a time that stretches from Thanksgiving Day to Cyber Monday, and one that’s often associated with the biggest deals.

Read more: Walmart overtakes Amazon in shoppers’ search for Black Friday bargains

So far, shoppers have been snapping up items. Some of the hottest categories have been toys, apparel and grills and outdoor equipment, Pandya said.

“Given the macroeconomic headwinds and backdrop coming into the season for consumers, the big question was, ‘Would the strength of discounts be able to keep demand strong and have it be stable – on par with what we saw last year?'” he said. “What we are seeing is the discounts being strong enough to entice consumers to continue to spend.”

And he added, online shopping did not have to compete as hard with brick-and-mortar this Turkey Day, after Walmart, Target and other major retailers decided to keep stores shuttered again this year.

Online sales growth on Thanksgiving Day was more modest, however. Since Adobe began tracking online holiday sales in 2012, the day has typically grown in the double-digit range year over year — by about 10% to 14%.

But the shopping holidays of Thanksgiving Day, Black Friday and Cyber Monday have become weaker as have retailers dangle deals earlier and earlier and stretch them across the season.

“Retailers still invest in these days – but as early discounts get introduced, that’s kept these days from growing as much as they used to once upon a time,” he said. “Now, they’re just large days and growing in a very modest fashion.”

Bigger holiday shopping days are yet to come. Black Friday is expected to draw $9 billion in spending. Cyber Monday is supposed to ring up $11.2 billion, which would be an increase of 5.1% year over year and cement that as the biggest online spending day, Adobe said.

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