Shoppers Were Back in Stores on Black Friday

By Alan Wolf, YSN

  • Foot traffic rose dramatically over last year’s Black Friday
  • But store visits were still a far cry from pre-pandemic levels
  • Early promotions and stockout concerns pulled holiday shopping forward

Shoppers flocked to brick-and-mortar stores on Black Friday, seemingly making up for lost time during last year’s COVID concerns.

According to Sensormatic Solutions, a retail data unit of Johnson Controls, foot traffic was up 47.5 percent the day after Thanksgiving compared to 2020, while RetailNext, which tracks customer counts across tens of thousands of stores, reported a 60.8 percent rise in store visits year over year, including a 21.6 percent increase in shoppers out for home products.

Total Black Friday sales were up 46.6 percent, RetailNext said.

But the Black Friday figures were far less stellar compared to 2019, before the pandemic pushed more shoppers online. RetailNext said in-store visits actually fell 26.9 percent from two years ago, while Sensormatic pegged the decline at 28.3 percent.

Still, analysts at both firms attribute the drop off to the extended Black Friday sales season, rather than a brick-and-mortar rebuff. Best Buy, for one, kicked off its initial round of Black Friday deals in mid-October this year, while other retailers have extended the official day for doorbusters into a month-long Black November sales event.

Also fueling this season’s early-bird shopping was a fear of stockouts due to the supply chain’s well-publicized challenges, further diminishing the importance of Black Friday.

Related: Black Friday is Dead, Long Live Black Friday

“While in-store shopping is still not back to 2019 levels, more shoppers felt comfortable visiting stores in person this Black Friday than in 2020,” said Brian Field, Sensormatic’s senior director of global retail consulting. “One driver of this increased traffic could be ongoing supply chain challenges and shipping delays, which are resulting in consumers shopping earlier to ensure their gifts arrive on time.”

The good news, said Lauren Bitar, Head of Insights at RetailNext, is that despite the decline from 2019, last Friday’s average units per transaction was up 6 percent and the average transaction value rose 18 percent compared to two years ago. “The overall in-store sales story is extremely positive,” she said. “Shoppers who are coming to stores are coming to shop.”