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Merry Clickmas: Black Friday online sales hit record $7.4B

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Black Friday Shopping

People carry shopping bags while crossing a street in San Francisco, Friday, Nov. 29, 2019. Black Friday once again kicked off the start of the holiday shopping season. (AP Photo/Jeff Chiu)

NEW YORK (AP) — This year’s Black Friday was the biggest ever for online sales, as fewer people hit the stores and shoppers rang up $7.4 billion in transactions from their phones, computers and tablets.

That’s just behind the $7.9 billion haul of last year’s Cyber Monday, which holds the one-day record for online sales, according to Adobe Analytics. Adobe measures sales at 80 of the top 100 U.S. online retailers.

Adobe expects online sales to jump to another record this Cyber Monday with an estimated total of $9.4 billion. Much of the shopping is happening on people’s phones, which accounted for 39% of all online sales Friday and 61% of online traffic.

Shoppers have been looking for “Frozen 2” toys in particular. Other top purchases included sports video games and Apple laptops.

All the online shopping may have helped thin the crowd at malls on Black Friday.

Traffic at stores fell 2.1% on Black Friday from a year ago, according to preliminary figures from RetailNext. It tracks in-store activity at tens of thousands of locations, including specialty apparel retailers, big-box stores and mall-based stores. The drop in traffic helped lead to a 1.6% dip in sales.

Online and in-store shopping aren’t always completely separate, though. Many people buy things online, only to head to the store to pick them up. Such sales surged 43.2% on Black Friday from a year ago, according to Adobe.

This holiday shopping season may be the most harried in years because it’s the shortest since 2013. Thanksgiving this year fell on the last Thursday in November — the latest possible date it could be.

Much is riding on the success of the holiday season’s sales. The U.S. economy is still growing steadily, but gains have slowed since its sizzling start to the year. Economists say strong spending by households is helping to bolster growth and make up for weak confidence among businesses given all the uncertainties about the U.S.-China trade war and other factors.