Adobe attributes the slowdown in Thanksgiving weekend sales in part to a stronger early season. U.S. consumers spent $99.1 billion online Nov. 1 through Nov. 28, During that period, 21 days exceeded $3 billion in online sales. In 2020, just eight days topped $3 billion by Nov. 28.

With consumers starting their holiday gift-buying earlier, online sales over Saturday, Nov. 27, and Sunday, Nov. 28, did not match the pace of last year, when the coronavirus pandemic drove shoppers online, according to data from Adobe Analytics.

Adobe found that consumers spent $4.5 billion online on Small Business Saturday, Nov. 27, (down 4.3% year over year) and $4.7 billion online on Sunday, Nov. 28 (down 0.5% year over year).

Adobe attributes the slowdown in Thanksgiving weekend numbers in part to a stronger early season. From Nov. 1 through Nov. 28, U.S. consumers spent $99.1 billion online, up 13.6% compared with this period in 2020. Also, 21 days exceeded $3 billion in online sales, according to Adobe. In 2020, just eight days topped $3 billion by Nov. 28. Given the elevated levels of spending, Adobe still expects the full season (Nov. 1 to Dec. 31) to hit $207 billion, which would represent 10% year-over-year growth compared with 2020.

“Online sales on big shopping days like Thanksgiving and Black Friday are decreasing for the first time in history, and it is beginning to smooth out the shape of the overall season,” says Taylor Schreiner, director at Adobe Digital Insights. “With 21 days in November driving over $3 billion in spend, what we know as Cyber Week is starting to look more like Cyber Month.”


Other trends Adobe Analytics observed included:

  • On Nov. 27 and Nov. 28, the prevalence of out-of-stock messages is up 16% compared to the weekend before (Nov. 20 to Nov. 21). Baby and toddler products had the highest out-of-stock levels, followed by the electronics, home and garden products, toys, and books categories.
  •  Despite the push around “Small Business Saturday,” large retailers gained more that day than smaller competitors, Adobe found. Large retailers (over $1 billion in annual revenue) saw 11% more revenue growth over October than small retailers ($10 million to $50 million in sales) on Saturday.
  • Online spending on Sunday mimicked the season so far and is being driven by categories including toys (online sales up 565% compared with a daily average in September 2021), books (up 370%), video games (up 350%), and electronics (up 245%). Gift card sales are up 414%.
  • Top sellers over the weekend include Barbie toys, Baby Alive, Rainbocorns, Legos, NERF toys, and Hatchimals in toys. In electronics, best sellers were Echo dot, Chromecast, Roku streaming sticks, and Nintendo Switch. The best-selling video games were Just Dance 2022, Mario Party Superstars, FIFA 22, and NBA 2K 22. Other best sellers included air fryers, Oculus Quest 2, Acer and Lenovo laptops, Samsung and Vizio TVs.
  • Consumer use of buy now, pay later (BNPL) services slowed on Saturday and Sunday—a trend Adobe calls “an indication that consumers are feeling more confident about their spending capabilities.” From Nov. 27 to Nov. 28, BNPL revenue decreased 10% year over year compared with the 2020 Saturday and Sunday following Thanksgiving and the number of orders completed with BNPL decreased 23% compared with a year earlier.
  • On Saturday and Sunday, consumers used curbside pickup for 18% of online orders (among retailers that offer the service). During the comparable Saturday and Sunday last year, consumers used curbside pickup in 25% of all online orders. “Some shoppers may still be wary of large crowds, and the option provides a safe and efficient way to shop,” Adobe reported.

Small Business Saturday

While large retailers were the biggest winners on Saturday, a survey from American Express indicates online penetration at small businesses on Small Business Saturday was up slightly year over year, with 58% of shoppers reporting that they made a purchase online at a small business, compared to 56% in 2020 and 43% in 2019.

U.S. consumers who shopped at independent retailers and restaurants on Small Business Saturday reached an estimated $23.3 billion, up 17.7% from $19.8 billion in 2020 and an 18.9% increase from pre-pandemic spending in 2019 ($19.6 billion), according to the survey.

This year’s survey also found that 70% of respondents reported Small Business Saturday makes them want to encourage others to shop at small, independently owned retailers. American Express initiated Small Business Saturday in 2010.

Teneo conducted the online survey Nov. 28 on behalf of American Express and the National Federation of Independent Business using a nationally representative sample of 2,426 U.S. adults. Projections are based on the current U.S. Census estimates of the U.S. adult population.