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US online sales surge to near-record on 'Black Friday'

New York

US online sales surged on the traditional "Black Friday" to set the country's second-highest one-day mark as virus-wary Americans shunned in-person shopping, the Adobe software company reported on Saturday.

American consumers, staying at home amid the novel coronavirus pandemic, spent US$9 billion online on Friday, a 21.6 per cent increase over the same day in 2019, Adobe said.

It said that Friday's sales were surpassed only by those of last year's Cyber Monday, the Monday after Black Friday, when the focus is on online sales.

Notably, some 40 per cent of sales were conducted over smartphones, and many consumers supported small businesses. Their sales jumped by 545 per cent on Friday compared to the average day in October.

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Adobe said 38 per cent of consumers said that they planned to support smaller local businesses ahead of the year-end holidays.

This Monday, with the usual surge of Cyber Monday spending amplified by the Covid-19 effect, analysts are predicting an all-time record.

Sales are expected to total from US$10.8 billion to US$12.7 billion, up by 15 to 35 per cent.

With more people working from home, demand has surged for bigger-ticket items such as computers and home fitness machines.

The National Retail Federation - pointing to optimism over Covid-19 vaccines, a strong stock market and disposable income that normally would have gone to travel or entertainment - projects a 2020 jump of between 3.6 per cent and 5.2 per cent in overall holiday sales from last year. AFP

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