No question: Black Friday Still Retail’s Biggest Day

by Bill McCarthy on 11-25-17

America’s Busiest holiday shopping day prevails — Black Friday shopper traffic results are promising

As shoppers continue to flood the doors of retail stores across the nation during this hugely influential weekend of holiday shopping, ShopperTrak data analysts are taking the morning to review Black Friday shopper traffic trends thus far.

With Black Friday shopper traffic data now available, we’re able to announce that, for the second year in a row, Black Friday (i.e., 11/24/17 12 AM – 11:59 PM) brick-and-mortar retail traffic has held steady YOY, as ShopperTrak data shows a less than -1% decrease in YOY Black Friday shopper traffic numbers. These numbers are very similar to 2016’s YOY Black Friday results, wherein ShopperTrak data showed that Black Friday 2016 visits remained “flat” with “no statistically relevant increase or decrease in traffic levels, when compared to 2015.”

black friday shopper traffic

With YOY Black Friday shopper traffic declines levelling out, and two consecutive years (2016 & 2017) of minimal YOY decreases on the books, it’s reasonable to believe that brick-and-mortar holiday shopping trends are stabilizing.

About five years ago, Black Friday shopping began extending into Thanksgiving night. Initially, ShopperTrak data indicated that shoppers responded positively to the late-night hours, showing up to stores in droves. However, as consumers’ enthusiasm for late Thanksgiving night deals waned and the popularity of online shopping grew, retailers and consumers alike scrambled to settle on an ideal approach to kicking off the holiday shopping season.

“It seems that retailers are striking a happy balance in determining their online and in-store strategies for shopper engagement,” says Director of Advisory Services for ShopperTrak, Brian Field. “Shoppers will still flock to physical stores on Black Friday to score a good deal, or as part of their tradition, but, many consumers no longer feel compelled to shop in stores on Thanksgiving Day. ”

ShopperTrak’s in-store traffic data, as well as the increasingly long list of retailers who opt out of Thanksgiving night shopping, attests to Field’s claim. It’s clear that the long-sustained prominence of Black Friday, in ranking as America’s busiest shopping day of the year, substantiates the notion that brick-and-mortar shopping will remain an integral component of American holiday shopping for years to come: consumers remain dedicated to striking a balance between Thanksgiving night and Black Friday, online and offline shopping.

Check back to the ShopperTrak blog early next week for our next post, which will go into more depth on Black Friday shopping trends, and analyze shopping trends from all of Thanksgiving Day weekend, including the days preceding the holiday.

Read more posts by Bill McCarthy

Bill McCarthy is the General Manager of the Americas, in which he oversees regional efforts pertaining to the Traffic Insights business unit.