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Number Crunch: A Look at Black Friday Shopping and Thanksgiving Travel

Ongoing Covid-19 issues hurt Black Friday shopping but improved holiday traveling.
(Mikhail Grachikov)
(Mikhail Grachikov)
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U.S. shoppers shifted online in droves for Black Friday deals, while Thanksgiving generated a peak in travel as the Covid-19 pandemic continues to flex its impact on the world, WSJ reports.

A Remade Retail Landscape:

  1. About half as many people visited physical stores on Black Friday compared to last year, while online spending rose around 22%, according to Adobe Analytics.
  2. Despite Covid-19 trends, U.S. consumer spending has been solid. The National Retail Federation predicted holiday sales would increase “at least 3.6% to about $755 billion, including at least 20% growth from online shopping to about $202 billion.”
  3. Online Black Friday sales reached $9 billion this year (22% increase), the second-biggest online-sales day after 2019’s Cyber Monday ($9.4 billion), Adobe Analytics reported.
  4. Adobe also expects Cyber Monday 2020 to set a new record, with “online sales of at least $10.8 billion or growth of at least 15% from last year.”

Hitting The Road Again:

  1. Roughly 50 million people were expected to have traveled during the Thanksgiving holiday despite increased restrictions and government warnings.
  2. It’s still about a 10% decrease from the record travel last year, which includes flights and road trips exceeding 50 miles. TSA said more than 964,000 people passed through screening on Saturday, 37% down from a year ago.
  3. Meanwhile, road trips decreased 4% from last year, “even as gas prices fell to their lowest level since 2015, averaging $2.13 a gallon for regular on Nov. 29.” Rail and bus travel is expected to have fallen 76% over the holiday period.

Justin Oh:

The shift from physical shopping towards e-commerce continues. The outstanding question is how much shopping volume will actually return to physical stores once the pandemic is over. 

My bias is that physical shopping will continue, but that e-commerce is here to stay, especially because I believe the pandemic will subside gradually.

Many e-commerce stocks like Shopify ($SHOP) are too pricey and look vulnerable to growth rate slowdowns, but we’ll be keeping an eye out on reasonably priced growth companies that will benefit from this long-term shift.

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