It was a Black Friday unlike any other.
With coronavirus cases surging, retailers encouraged consumers to shop online. And they took the bait.
Consumers have been cherry-picking the deep discounts retailers have been offering since October, and many of those who participated in the annual shopping extravaganza did so on their computers or smartphones.
For those who turned out in person, many found the stores lacked crowds and shelves were sometimes bare of hot items like the PlayStation 5 and Xbox One X gaming consoles.
The National Retail Federation expects holiday sales this year to rise between 3.6% and 5.2% from last year. Even if sales hit the low end of that range, the result will be better than the average of 3.5% over the past five holiday shopping seasons.
Retailers are counting on consumers to splurge after a tough year. But unemployment remains high, so money will be tight for some families, and that could threaten results.
An encouraging sign came from Adobe, which reported record online sales on Thanksgiving Day. Late Friday, it said onlines sales were on pace to hit another record on Friday, and the company predicts Cyber Monday will continue to set a new bar.