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Best Buy and Department Stores: A Holiday Deep Dive

by 
Lila Margalit
 on 
November 20, 2023
Best Buy and Department Stores: A Holiday Deep Dive

Consumers keenly anticipating post-Thanksgiving sales already have a plethora of deals to choose from. But even in an extended holiday season, certain days stand out as premier shopping milestones. Black Friday, the day before Christmas, and other special days draw insane crowds to retailers across categories. And perhaps no segments are driven more decisively by holiday seasonality than electronics chains and department stores. 

So with Black Friday around the corner, we dove into the data to explore typical Q4 visit patterns to Best Buy, JCPenney, Macy’s, and Kohl’s – four chains that have become almost synonymous with the holiday season. Which days are most important for these retailers? And what differences can be observed between different regions of the country?

Black Friday Wins Again

Foot traffic data shows that Black Friday remains the unrivaled king of the holiday season for department stores and electronics leaders. Best Buy in particular, which opens its doors at 5:00 AM on the retail holiday, is positively mobbed on the day after Thanksgiving by shoppers eager to get their hands on pricey gadgets they normally can’t afford. In 2022, Best Buy drew a tremendous 643.4% more visitors on Black Friday than it did, on an average day during the rest of the year. JCPenney, not to be outdone, outpaced its daily average by 537.7% on Black Friday 2022. And Macy’s and Kohl’s also experienced dramatic visit spikes on the special day. 

A Regional Perspective

But drilling down into the data for different areas of the country shows important differences between regions. Black Friday appears to be most firmly entrenched in the Midwest, where November 25th, 2022 visits to all four analyzed chains exceeded daily averages by the widest margins (For Kohl’s, the South Central states came in a very close second). The Pacific region, on the other hand – encompassing California, Oregon, Washington, Hawaii, and Alaska – saw the smallest Black Friday spikes for Best Buy, JCPenney, and Macy’s. For Kohl’s, the region with the smallest Black Friday visit spike was the Northeast. Still, all four chains saw significant post-Thanksgiving visit increases throughout the country, ranging from 789.8% to 325.2%. 

“Boxing Day”? Really?

But looking beyond Black Friday, the chains’ holiday visit patterns begin to diverge. For department stores, the second-craziest day of the year is Super Saturday – the Saturday before Christmas Eve – when many not-so-last-minute shoppers get their gift buying done. But for Best Buy, the runner up to Black Friday is actually the day after Christmas, known (at least in the UK and Canada) as “Boxing Day.” Given the high price point of many Best Buy purchases, electronics lovers may be particularly apt to utilize December 26th to quickly exchange unwanted items or leverage their holiday gift cards to buy a new smartphone or laptop. 

For Best Buy, as well as for Macy’s, the third-most-popular shopping day of the year in 2022 was December 23rd – a favorite for procrastinators everywhere. But for Kohl’s and JCPenney, this distinction belonged to December 10th, the second Saturday before Christmas Eve.

Key Takeaways

Any way you cut the cake, Black Friday remains a critical juncture for department stores and big box electronics retailers. How will still-low consumer confidence impact this season’s shopping bonanza? And which chains will turn out the biggest crowds?

Follow Placer.ai’s data-driven retail insights to find out.

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