Black Friday 2020: Crowds Give Stores A Miss, Online Sales Surge

New York: The coronavirus pandemic has crunched the holiday shopping season with fewer people hitting stores on Black Friday.

In normal times, Black Friday is the busiest shopping day of the year, drawing millions of people eager to get started on their holiday spending.

However, crowds were smaller this year than last after chains like Walmart Inc. and Best Buy Co. Inc. put their Black Friday promotions online and, alongside Inc., encouraged people to buy earlier in the season.

A spike in coronavirus cases is threatening the economy’s fitful recovery from the sudden plunge in the spring. Crowds at stores were dramatically diminished as shoppers shifted online.

Online sales on Thanksgiving Day hit a record $5.1 billion, according to Adobe Analytics, marking a 21.5% increase over 2019 and suggesting more shoppers are purchasing things online instead of in person.

Many stores had actively tried to deter big crowds from forming on Friday, implementing measures like expanded curbside pickup and rolling out holiday deals in the weeks before Black Friday to spread out crowds.