Black Friday sales were the best they have been in years — but companies lost out on millions of dollars because they weren't ready for success


Black Friday sales set records this year. But that doesn’t mean the shopping bonanza was nothing but sunshine and daisies for retailers.

Black Friday online sales hit $US6.22 billion, according to Adobe Analytics data – up by 23.7% from $US5.03 billion last year.

The surrounding days’ online sales were equally impressive. Shoppers spent $US2.4 billion online on Wednesday, up 31.8% from last year. Thanksgiving Day online sales hit $US3.7 billion, representing 28% growth year over year.

Thanksgiving weekend was the biggest online shopping weekend in American history, as sales reached $US6.4 billion.

While store foot traffic was slightly down, in-store sales are expected to have grown as well, resulting in a record-breaking kickoff to the holiday shopping season.

Total spend for Black Friday weekend is predicted to reach roughly $US59.6 billion, according to estimates by GlobalData Retail. That would represent an increase of 5.7% over sales during the same period last year – Thanksgiving Day to the following Sunday – and the best growth rate in the United States since the post-recession Black Friday boom in 2011.

But the sales explosion created some new problems for retailers.

Sold-out goods proved to be a significant problem. Some deal items, such as the Nintendo Switch and the Instant Pot, sold out before Thanksgiving Day was even over. According to Adobe, 3.26% of product pages saw out-of-stock messages on Thanksgiving, costing retailers an estimated $US120 million in sales.

The out-of-stock messages continued, with retailers losing out on $US177 million on Black Friday (2.85% of product pages) and $US140 million over the weekend (2.18%).

Retailers’ lack of preparation for the eruption of early online sales also resulted in several technical difficulties, which Walmart, Lowe’s, J.Crew, and more dealt with on Wednesday, Thanksgiving Day, and Black Friday.

Walmart’s technical issues affected an estimated 3.6 million shoppers, according to an analysis by the retail aggregator Love The Sales, which found that the tech problems lasted about 150 minutes and cost the retailer an estimated $US9 million in lost sales.

For customers, “it’s easy to go to a different site and spend their holiday money elsewhere,” Bob Buffone, the chief technology officer at the web-optimization software company Yottaa, told Business Insider on Thursday.

“Depending on how long the site is down, it can cost retailers a lot of money and also result in damage to the brand as shoppers take to social media to express their frustration,” Buffone said.

As shoppers move online and begin looking for deals earlier, Black Friday sales tested whether retailers were ready for this year’s holiday season. And while many companies are celebrating the record-setting day, not everyone passed the test.

Read more about Black Friday 2018:

Now tell us about your holiday shopping!

NOW WATCH: Briefing videos

Business Insider Emails & Alerts

Site highlights each day to your inbox.

Follow Business Insider Australia on Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, and Instagram.