Black Friday is back as record number of Americans are expected to go shopping
Americans may have started their Christmas shopping in July or October or some other point before this week, but research indicates that a record number of the nation’s citizens still plan to go hunting for gifts between Thanksgiving Day and Cyber Monday.
An estimated 166.3 million people, eight million more than last year, are planning to shop over the four-day span. The number, if it proves accurate, will represent a record high, according to research from the National Retail Federation and Prosper Insights & Analytics.
“While there is much speculation about inflation’s impact on consumer behavior, our data tells us that this Thanksgiving holiday weekend will see robust store traffic with a record number of shoppers taking advantage of value pricing,” Matthew Shay, president and CEO of NRF, said in a statement. “We are optimistic that retail sales will remain strong in the weeks ahead, and retailers are ready to meet consumers however they want to shop with great products at prices they want to pay.”
NRF expects inflation-abetted sales for November and December to grow between six and eight percent over 2021, which itself was a record breaker with $889.3 billion in industry revenues.
Black Friday may continue to be the most popular day for shopping in the U.S., with 69 percent of the survey respondents saying they planned to shop. Sixty-seven percent of those planning to shop on Black Friday will head to stores, up from 64 percent last year.
Cyber Monday is expected to be the second most popular shopping day, with 38 percent saying they would be looking for deals to buy.
While record numbers of consumers may go shopping, it’s unclear how much actual buying will take place. Eighteen percent of shoppers have completed at least half of their holiday shopping, roughly the same percentage as last year.
Forty-three percent of shoppers plan to use online search to figure out what gifts to buy this year. Other sources of inspiration include friends and family (35 percent) and purchases sparked by something they see in a store (31 percent).
Clothes and gift cards remain the two most popular forms of gifts this year, according to the research. Fifty-five percent plan to give clothing and 45 percent expect to give gift cards. Toys (37 percent), books/music/movies/video (33 percent) and food/candy (31 percent) round out the top five.
DISCUSSION QUESTIONS: Are you surprised that so many people are expected to go shopping over the Thanksgiving weekend given all the early sales run by retailers this year? How will sales stack up for the four days versus 2021?
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26 Comments on "Black Friday is back as record number of Americans are expected to go shopping"
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Founder, CEO & Author, HeadCount Corporation
As our first holiday season substantially post-pandemic, this makes complete sense. Black Friday shopping is a tradition with many consumers, and even people who don’t traditionally do it may want to explore this year as an outing. More traffic will help, but ultimately retailers need to convert that traffic into sales. While it’s hard to predict how this year will stack up given the various head and tail winds, I am cautiously optimistic that this year will be stronger than 2021. Happy holidays!
Managing Director, GlobalData
Trade will likely be brisk this Black Friday, especially compared to the past two years which have been disrupted by the pandemic. However there are two questions that hang over good shopper numbers. The first is how much people will spend — or more accurately, how much they will buy. The second is whether spend will be incremental or whether it is simply pulled forward from December as they want to get bargains on holiday things they are buying anyway. My view is that headline numbers will look good, but some of the underlying dynamics — including profit — will be far less satisfactory.
Retail Industry Strategy, Esri
I agree 100 percent with your assessment. The industry will spin it positive, the reality I suspect will be something less than great.
Managing Director, GlobalData
Indeed! And with the greater of respect, the NRF has a tendency to talk everything up rather than being realistic and honest about the state of retail. I am all for optimism, but I think businesses need to accompany that with a good dose of realism!
CFO, Weisner Steel
Every year we seem to have the “drama queen” equivalent of reversion to the mean: it will start out great, with glowing headlines and predictions, and then peter out, or start out slow — with the accompanying panic — but then have some late rally. Yet on average the end results are … guess what: average. We’re not likely to see a repeat of 1932.
Strategy & Operations Transformation Leader
The Black Friday phenomenon has shifted fairly significantly as the holiday shopping season has extended from October to Christmas. With the return to a relative normal, in a post-pandemic world, we should expect consumers to be flocking to the malls and shopping centers to take advantage of the aggressive promotional strategies that retailers are leveraging to get out of the over-inventoried situation. Additionally, with the emergence and enhancements made to the digital shopping experience, online orders will also be on the rise.
We should expect overall revenues to be up relative to the same timeframe last year and potentially comp increases across the board. However even with revenue increases, profitability will take a significant hit due to the rampant promotional cycles, markdowns, increased costs to serve, and supply chain challenges. Retailers must leverage the holiday season to mitigate the over-inventoried place they find themselves in due to all the contingency stock they built up earlier this year.
Principal, KIZER & BENDER Speaking
I am absolutely not surprised that shoppers will turn out for Black Friday. Retailers have trained them that this is THE DAY TO SAVE.
I have said many times on RetailWire that Black Friday is a timeless “holiday” consumers look forward to all year. Unless it’s the day after Thanksgiving it’s not Black Friday, it’s just another sale.
Founding Partner, Merchandising Metrics
Expecting a lot of shoppers is not surprising. It’s great that a tradition and a ritual can be practiced again without the inhibiting factor of the pandemic hanging over us. But we have a new inhibiting factor — inflation. It will be very interesting to see the composition of purchasing by retailer and product category as well as how brick-and-mortar and e-commerce compete with one another.
By the way, what are we calling an amazing deal on e-commerce? If it’s not a door buster, is it a phone buster?
Professor, International Business, Guizhou University of Finance & Economics and University of Sanya, China.
I am surprised at the forecast. An eight million shopper increase is significant.
Meanwhile, 18 percent have completed at least half of their holiday shopping. That alone is about 30 million shoppers. That suggests there is somewhat less urgency.
The other number that surprises me is the gift card number. Forty-five percent plan on giving gift cards. I don’t even have to go to the store for that — and no retailer will be out-of-stock.
In the meantime — Happy Thanksgiving to all!
I don’t know if shopping will be brisk — many shoppers were already lured by pre- pre- pre-Black Friday sales to help retailers sell through their excess merchandise. It will be interesting to see how the numbers stack up.
Director, Retail Market Insights, Aptos
I have given up trying to predict holiday trends this year. There are just so many wildcards affecting consumers, it seems foolhardy to even try to forecast how they will react. What I know for certain however is that Black Friday deals have become very difficult to discern, given that we began promoting them in — October. In one of our modern marketing era’s great ironies, I honestly think many people, overwhelmed by the barrage of Black Friday emails, have decided to just walk the stores to find the deals that appeal to them. Inbox offer overload is real!
Director of Marketing, Körber
No surprise there – consumers are ready for a more “normal” holiday season, and part of that is shopping in stores. What will be interesting is to see how much they actually end up spending over the holiday weekend.
Director, Retail Strategy, CI&T
I’ve been predicting that in-store Black Friday would be a big deal again to consumers for two primary reasons. First, consumers have been gravitating back towards brick-and-mortar over the last few months since they’re once again comfortable shopping in person. Secondly, the economy has meant that consumers are keeping tight budgets. So the readiness to buy gifts hasn’t been there until closer to the actual holidays, and the reliance on/hope for significant Black Friday deals is stronger than ever.
SVP Global Marketing, Fluent Commerce
People are busting to get out. This is the first “more normal” shopping season in three years, so I’m not surprised by the numbers. In-store sales will definitely be higher. What will be interesting is how digital sales compare to last year. We’ll probably see a bigger spread for digital spend (over 2-3 weeks) rather than it being concentrated in a four day period, but let’s wait and see.
Contributing Editor, RetailWire; Founder and CEO, Vision First
I’m not surprised that many will shop. It will be interesting to see what/if they buy, how much they will spend and if it will be profitable for retailers.
Principal, KIZER & BENDER Speaking
After firing huge numbers of promotional events and messages during the past months, it to some degree has to affect and dent sales and foot traffic. Now start rolling out the next waves and don’t stop.
Chief Data Officer, CaringBridge
I am not surprised that so many people plan to shop over the Thanksgiving weekend. Employment is high, and inflation challenges will simply lead consumers to work harder to find good deals for their gifts going forward. I believe the number of transactions will grow, but I am of mixed thoughts in terms of revenue, with the growth factor of inflation, battling the increased discounting at the same time. Offhand, I would expect a performance level consistent with pre-pandemic times.
An increase from 2021 maybe, but what about from 2018 or 2019? Stores do not have particularly attractive deals this year and many stores are not ready for major crowds of shoppers. The in-store experience continues to decline at many major chains including all of the department store chains and Target. Other chains like Bed Bath and Beyond and Best Buy appear to be having serious problems and won’t draw nearly the crowds they once did.
CFO, Weisner Steel
Candidly the bigger question is “should we care?” Not in the usual sense that ascetics preach about the dangers of materialism, but rather does Black Friday itself have any predictive or sampling value (about the actual holiday season). I’m leaning firmly on the side of “no.” OTOH, the headline grabbing potential is still vast!
Professor of Food Marketing, Haub School of Business, Saint Joseph's University
Not at all. Two factors will drive this behavior: First, inflation concerns will encourage bargain shopping. Deals at retail are in abundance at this time of the year. Second, supply chain issues (inventory availability, threat of a national rail strike, etc.) will drive shoppers to purchase their goods before they become out-of-stock or unavailable.
Principal, Clearbrand CX
There is pent up demand for a return to traditional holiday shopping, which we’ll see play out in robust customer traffic and interest. But I’ll bet there are many more shoppers searching for more deals and deeper discounts this holiday season thanks to layoffs and economic uncertainty ahead. The jury is out as to whether retailers will be aggressive enough to move their inventory.
Global Commercial Director, Loqate, a GBG solution
Shopping over the Thanksgiving weekend here in the UK has always been a slightly more muted affair, but still a major retail event nonetheless. Our Loqate shopper survey data this holiday season indicated that whilst many shoppers had “gone early” with their purchases, as had a number of retailers with their BF offers, a significant number of us were waiting far closer to the time to bag the best deals.
Cost of living was checking the spending habits of around a quarter of shoppers, but another quarter were planning to spend more than last year! It’s a really mixed picture this year as we expected, and I can’t see many records being broken, but the sales are on, the Turkey is in, and I predict that a number of brands will end up being more thankful than they expected to be in 2022!
Founder & CEO, HotWax Commerce
Customers especially look forward to Black Friday and Cyber Monday sales to shop for holiday gifts, so the statistics are not surprising. Retailers should focus on how to capitalize on this opportunity and clear their excess inventory. Customers eagerly waited for these events, retailers must now figure out how to entice them and create a successful sales story.
Vice President, Research at IDC
No surprise here. The shopping trend has not been slowing and a big sale day is important. Although customers have been returning to stores, expect to see more shopping — just because there are more people who can.
Head Of Competitor Insights, Bunnings
Expecting to see the evolving trend of post-Christmas (big in Australia) spend brought forward to Cyber Weekend as substantial cost of living pressures impact household discretionary shopping. Observed early discounting has been deeper in 2022 than previous years, likely attributable to concerns over seasonal inventory reserves & a fear of an economic slow-down into the New Year.
Agree with several other comments here eluding to the social element of shopping these events; for many people it’s the first post pandemic opportunity to go and enjoy (!) a visit to the mall.
Global Industry Architect, Microsoft Retail
When the numbers are out it will be interesting to see. What has struck me this year however in the UK, is that a number of smaller retailers are pushing back against Black Friday – some on environmental grounds, others for different reasons.
A specialist fishing retailer — Fishlocker — claims that 80% of Black Friday purchases will end up in land fill.
I definitely feel there has been less noise about Black Friday in the UK this year. It will be interesting to see what happens in years to come.