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2017 Black Friday Weekend Shopper Visits Report

Strong Shopper Numbers Kick Off  Holiday 2017: Black Friday Weekend Shopper Visit Data Backs up 2016 Improvement of YOY Trends

With Black Friday behind us and December, retail’s busiest month, just around the corner, the time has come to take a deeper look at shopper behavior during Black Friday Weekend 2017, the period spanning Thanksgiving Day (11/23/17) through Sunday (11/26/17). For this analysis, we are leveraging a sample of same-store traffic data from 2011 – 2017, in order to remove any noise and ensure strong data correlations over time.

The Big Picture: YOY Trends

In last year’s Black Friday Weekend report, ShopperTrak analysts noted that our 2016 data could signal the start of shopper visit improvement, after a multi-year downward trend. Bill McCarthy, General Manager of the Americas for ShopperTrak, wrote: “2016 shopper visit data signals that the era of steep YOY declines in shopper visits around [Black] Friday may be coming to an end. This does not mean that shopper visits levels will cease to decrease YOY. Rather, that traffic levels may begin to fluctuate less wildly.”

In a nutshell, all signs in ShopperTrak’s 2017 Black Friday Weekend data indicate that Bill’s 2016 prediction was correct. Traffic levels for the holiday week, as a whole (Sunday, 11/19 – Sunday 11/26), indicate that the rate of shopper visit decline is the same this year as it was in 2016: -2%, which is a meaningful improvement from 2015, when traffic was down -4.7%. Similarly, 2017 Black Friday traffic is down less than 1% YOY, and for more detail on how ShopperTrak arrived at this number, check out this post.

Overall, this strong performance indicates that Black Friday remains a highly relevant day for shoppers – the busiest in-store shopping day, in fact. Ultimately, it bucked year-to-date trends, which indicates that shoppers are ready and willing to hit the stores this holiday season.


Extended Black Friday 

When looking at the combined period of Thanksgiving night and Black Friday — which ShopperTrak dubs “extended Black Friday,” 2017 shopper visits are only down by -1.6% YOY, a slight decrease from 2016’s -1.0%. Much like the minimal YOY decreases we saw this year on Black Friday itself (12 AM – 11:59 PM), this minor decline during the extended period has proven to be far less substantial this year and last, when compared to earlier years.

Another interesting trend in extended Black Friday data is that while most retailers saw minimal change in YOY traffic levels for the full period, retailers in outlet malls were an exception. Traffic for non-outlet retailers that remained open on Thanksgiving night was flat YOY. However, stores in outlet malls experienced a +4.7% bump in traffic YOY on Thanksgiving night, which is a greater improvement than the +2% increase they saw on Black Friday. With this, it may be fair to assert that while some shoppers are still willing to go out on Thanksgiving night, their overall desire is waning. Outlets seem to be shoppers’ preferred destination on Thanksgiving night, while consumers choose to remain with family on the holiday.

Saturday and Sunday

What a difference two years can make: combined Black Friday Weekend (i.e., Saturday and Sunday) traffic, during the past two years, has decreased -2.5-3.5% YOY. This range represents a big turnaround from the prior three years, during which shopper visit decreases ranged from -4.5% – 6% YOY. This reinforces the notion that traffic trends are stabilizing and that significant dips in shopper visits may become a thing of the past.

Looking Ahead

As we wrap up our review of Black Friday 2017, it’s important to highlight that many retailers have reported exceptional online sales figures this year. Specifically, Adobe reported $5.03 billion was spent on Black Friday and Cyber Monday is officially the largest sales day in history, with retailers earning $6.59 billion in online sales. And, worth noting, is that Cyber Monday is clearly perceived by shoppers as an online holiday. The day’s digital nature has little impact on in-store traffic, as brick- and-mortar retailers saw only a -2.3% decrease in foot traffic yesterday, Cyber Monday 2017. This news, combined with current stable in-store traffic trends, means that savvy omnichannel retailers are on track to foil the death of retail narrative.

For more information on ShopperTrak’s Black Friday traffic results, check out the recent press release and its accompanying blog post.


Brian Field: Brian Field is the senior director of advisory services for ShopperTrak, where he oversees the application of ShopperTrak's proprietary solutions to retailer-specific issues across different functional areas in order to drive top and bottom line store performance. Prior to joining ShopperTrak, Brian served in roles of increasing responsibility at Chico’s FAS Inc., including as the director of corporate store operations and finance. Brian has spent nearly four decades in the industry, and his experience includes: store sales and management, training, merchandising, strategic planning and analysis for brands as diverse as David’s Bridal, Circuit City and Macy's.