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U.S. Black Friday shoppers tapered online splurge, as some returned to stores

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A shopper exits a store during Black Friday sales in the Manhattan borough of New York City, New York, U.S., November 25, 2021. REUTERS/Jeenah Moon

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RALEIGH, North Carolina, Nov 27 (Reuters) - U.S. shoppers spent slightly less online during Black Friday this year, with many venturing back to physical stores despite coronavirus fears, tight supplies, and retailers' efforts to encourage earlier holiday purchases.

For the first time ever, spending online during Black Friday - traditionally one of the biggest shopping days of the year - fell, reversing the growth of recent years, according to data from Adobe Analytics, a wing of Adobe's business that specializes in data insights and tracks transactions at 80 of the top 100 U.S. retailers.

Retailers lured shoppers to make holiday purchases online as early as September this year, because the supply-chain logjam has prevented them from quickly replenishing year-end merchandise. Shoppers' total outlay online during Black Friday was roughly $8.9 billion, less than the $9 billion in 2020, Adobe said. Spending online during Thanksgiving Day was flat at $5.1 billion, Adobe said.

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Many retailers closed physical stores on Thanksgiving this year, as they did in 2020, amid a labor shortage and the coronavirus pandemic. Stores reopened the day after Thanksgiving, and shopper visits increased by 47.5% compared to 2020, but fell by 28.3% when compared to 2019, the last pre-pandemic year, according to data from Sensormatic Solutions.

Supply-chain challenges and shipping delays may have prompted shoppers to visit stores in order to increase the chances of securing gifts in time for Christmas. More are making purchases online that they can pick up in-store, which keeps shipping costs down.

Macy’s (M.N), Walmart(WMT.N), Target(TGT.N) and Kohl's (KSS.N), for example, gave shoppers the flexibility to shop online, in stores or through hybrid methods, walked away as winners on Black Friday, said Louis Navellier, chairman of investor Navellier & Associates.

Of those purchasing online, slightly more used their smartphones. Canadian e-commerce company Shopify (SHOP.TO) said the number of shoppers on its platform who used smartphones to make purchases increased this year to 72% from 67% last year.

Retailers' moves to encourage buying holiday gifts earlier could also lessen the importance of Cyber Monday, the first Monday after Thanksgiving.

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Reporting by Arriana McLymore and Richa Naidu, Aakriti Bhalla and Sabahatjahan Contractor in Bengaluru Editing by Nick Zieminski

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