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🛍️ Black Friday was lit

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The Hustle

A woman is suing Kraft Heinz for $5m, claiming the 3.5-minute prep instructions on its Velveeta Shells & Cheese cups are misleading; it actually takes longer.

In today’s email:

  • Black Friday: Online sales were hot.
  • Chart: Facebook cleaned up its feed.
  • Digits: Butter, weed, and other wild stats.
  • Around the web: Keyboard cleaning, most-borrowed books, penguin checkups, and more cool internet finds.

🎧 On the go? Listen to today’s 10-minute podcast to hear Jacob and Rob discuss wild numbers from the holiday weekend, from Black Friday stats to a World Cup battle over who gets to permanently keep James Corden.

The big idea

Black Friday boomed online

For a shopping holiday known for overnight campouts and irrational customer behavior, in-person retail was kinda mild.

Although in-person visits increased 2.9% from last year, analysts told Retail Dive that the long queues of yore had vanished, while Business Insider shared photos of mostly empty Walmart stores.

Ecommerce, however…

… was big. Customers spent a record $9.1B+ online, per CNBC, citing estimates from Adobe Analytics.

Some other fun stats:

  • Electronics, toys, and fitness equipment sales were all up 200%+ compared to an average October day
  • 48% of online sales were done by phone, up 4% from 2021
  • BNPL payments were up 78% from the previous week
  • Adobe expects $11.2B in sales on Cyber Monday, a 5.1% YoY increase

Meanwhile, Shopify announced its best Black Friday ever, with global sales of $3.3B+, up 17% YoY.

Among large retailers, Walmart was the top dog online, per data from Captify, which tracks web searches.

Amazon, which led last year, dropped to fourth behind Target and Kohl’s.

Why the increase?

Inflation, for one. Shoppers may have dropped more on less this year.

But the strength of online sales likely relied on convenience and a shift in consumer habits:

  • Consumers now favor online shopping, especially millennials and Gen Xers
  • Salesforce reported BOPIS (buy-online-pickup-in-store) sales, popular during the pandemic, were up 20% compared to other days
  • Shoppers still want deals, but also flexible payment options, like BNPL, amid economic uncertainty

Fun fact: Black Friday is the busiest day of the year for plumbers. Why? Clogged sinks and garbage disposals due to Thanksgiving cooking.

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eyeball wearing a hat

Stats: Elon Musk shared slides revealing new Twitter sign-ups and user activity are at all-time highs. He also said if Apple and Google were to kick Twitter off their app stores, he’d make a new phone.


Disney’s latest animated feature, Strange World, pulled in $11.9m this weekend, the company’s worst box office debut since The Emperor’s New Groove in 2000.

The FCC banned products from Huawei, ZTE, and multiple other Chinese telecom providers in an effort to limit the number of Chinese products on US networks.

Nielsen reported the Thanksgiving afternoon NFL game between the Cowboys and Giants garnered 42m viewers, making it the most-watched regular season game on record.

Frontier Airlines cut its customer service phone line, requiring passengers to instead use its website, live chat, or social media.

Tesla recalled ~80k vehicles in China due to software and seat belt issues.

Leveling the field: The blog squad wrote about tech startups building innovative products to make health care more equitable.

Olivia Heller

Facebook took out the trash

Last year, Facebook began publishing a quarterly transparency report to fight criticism that the platform amplifies divisive content.

While the reports helped mitigate those fears, they introduced a new concern — that Facebook’s most popular posts were “trash,” per The Wall Street Journal.

To fix the problem…

… Meta had to define what makes content trashy.

  • The company pulled members from its product, user-experience, and integrity teams to identify what users consider “trashy” content, and how to avoid promoting those posts.
  • With plans to incorporate more short-form videos into the feed, Meta also built a separate system to define low-quality posts in Reels.

The results have been immediate, but Facebook has work to do. Though the top 100 posts are cleaner than before, the top 500 are still littered with “trash.”

Plus, the content now dominating the feed — celebrity news, memes, and Reels videos — isn’t exactly the most stimulating brain food.

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Digits: Butter, weed, and more wild numbers

1) In November 2021, West Virginians purchased the most butter per capita of any US state, at 10.7 ounces per shopper, per Instacart data. Hawaiians bought the least butter, at 3.3 ounces per shopper.

2) New York State has been slow to issue retail licenses for selling marijuana, and now farms there have ~300k pounds of marijuana — worth $750m — just sitting around at risk of going bad.

3) A group of cryptocurrency entrepreneurs delivered a 12k-pound, $600k+ metal sculpture of Elon Musk’s head on a goat’s body riding a rocket to Tesla’s headquarters in Austin.

4) So far this year, Jeff Bezos’ billionaire ex-wife, MacKenzie Scott, has donated $1,990,800,000 across 343 organizations supporting marginalized communities.

5) Toy brands are paying $75k-$300k to the families of ultra-popular YouTube child stars to make videos of them playing with their products.

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⛵ On this day: In 1520, Ferdinand Magellan became the first European explorer to sail to the Pacific Ocean from the Atlantic.

📚 That’s cool: Brooklyn Public Library celebrated its 125th birthday by revealing its 125 most-borrowed books, with Maurice Sendak’s Where the Wild Things Are topping the list.

⌨️ How to: Clean your dirty keyboard.

🌳 Cure boredom: A simple, relaxing game where you arrange tiles to build a city.

🐧 Aww: And now, weighing a penguin.


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Today’s email was brought to you by Jacob Cohen, Juliet Bennett Rylah, and Rob Litterst.
Editing by: Mark “More of a Cyber Monday kinda guy” Dent.

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