The Only Lines Will Be Online! Black Friday Shoppers Won’t Be At Stores But Their Spending Will Help The Biggest Retailers Salvage Their Year.

There’s no doubt that the in-person, Black Friday stampedes of prior years will be reduced significantly this year, but businesses are positioned to fight back with improving online numbers.

Most stores are expecting a huge drop-off in foot traffic. Only 2.6% of consumers are planning in-person shopping this Friday as the global pandemic continues, according to a survey by Staples.

But third-quarter results shined a favorable light on several major companies’ online progress as retailers ramp up their digital platforms.

Nordstrom reported third-quarter sales exceeded analysts’ predictions, with shares up more than 4% in extended trading Tuesday. Digital sales in the three-month period were $1.6 billion and represented 54% of the retailer’s business.

CEO Erik Nordstrom said the retailer’s off-price store, Nordstrom Rack, could be a major growth driver because it’s one of the few in this category with a large online presence. The company will expand its inventory, particularly at the lower price point at its stores, he said.

As Dick’s Sporting Goods announced a change at the top – its president, Lauren Hobart, will succeed Ed Stack as chief executive on Feb. 1 – the chain reported that e-commerce sales rose 95% during the third quarter and reported record quarterly same-store sales growth of more than 23%. The company also cited strength in the golf category.

The focus has been on driving sales online and encouraging shoppers to use its in-store pickup option for e-commerce purchases. During the third quarter, the company said online sales made up about 21% of net sales, up from 13% a year earlier.

Abercrombie & Fitch, with digital sales up 43%, also soared past Wall Street expectations and saw its shares rise about 10%.

One effect on consumers is the demand for comfortable clothing. Abercrombie’s numbers were boosted by demand for its Gilly Hicks brand’s activewear and loungewear as customers stayed home in record numbers.

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