Black Friday sales have already passed $3.5 billion - and it reveals a dark truth about the future of the holiday

Black Friday sales have already passed $3.5 billion - and it reveals a dark truth about the future of the holiday

Target Black Friday

Adam Hunger/AP Images for Target

Black Friday shoppers at Target

  • Black Friday shoppers have spent more than $3.5 billion online.
  • The deals have never been steeper.
  • The demand for discounts and rise of online shopping could be a problem for some retailers if they fail to adjust their strategies.

Black Friday sales are surging, with shoppers spending more than $3.5 billion online as of Friday morning.

Shoppers spent a total $2.9 billion online on Thanksgiving - a 18% increase over last year, according to Adobe Analytics. By 10 a.m. ET on Friday, shoppers had spent an additional $640 million online.

"Thanksgiving is shaping up to be a record-breaking shopping day," said Mickey Mericle, the vice president of marketing and customer insights for Adobe.


However, the surging sales hide two ominous realities.

Black Friday

Getty/Stephanie Keith

First, retailers have had to drop prices lower than ever to get shoppers to spend money.

Discounts are hitting record highs this year, according to Edited, a retail technology company. Nearly half of the US apparel market was discounted on Thanksgiving, with an average promotion of 47% off an item's full price.

Retailers have additionally started offering more deals all year round, making Black Friday less of a special event.


"The whole idea of Black Friday and Cyber Monday ... is becoming less relevant as the consumer is generally accustomed to great deals, or at least getting a deal," Josh Elman, a consumer and retail analyst with Nasdaq Advisory Services, told Business Insider.

Second, a record-breaking day of sales on Thanksgiving Day reveals the increasing irrelevance of Black Friday as a single day of sales. According to Salesforce, Thanksgiving is shaping up to be the third-biggest shopping day of the year, after Cyber Monday and Black Friday.

Additionally, an increasing proportion of these sales are happening online. With people shopping on their smartphones instead of actually shopping in stores, traditional Black Friday - with crowds of people lining up to get into stores the day after Thanksgiving - is dead.

Shoppers are expected to spend $107.4 billion online this holiday season, which would represent an increase of nearly 14% over last year, according to Adobe.