Black Friday – the unofficial start of the holiday season – drove nationwide retail foot traffic spikes on November 24th. Just how big was the Black Friday 2023 visit surge? And how did this year’s shopping holiday compare to 2022? We dove into the foot traffic data to find out.
Best Buy Leads the Pack
Best Buy is consistently one of the major winners of Black Friday, and this year was no exception – the electronics giant received 688.2% more visits on Black Friday 2023 compared to its daily year-to-date (YTD) average. Macy’s, the second-place Black Friday winner, also saw a considerable foot traffic surge – 458.5% increase compared to the YTD daily average – followed by Outlet Malls and their 416.3% visit spike.
The top three Black Friday 2023 performers also represented the three retail categories that benefited the most from the retail holiday – Specialty Stores, Department Stores, and Malls. Home Improvement chains, Off-Price Retailers, and Superstores also saw a significant increase in visits on Black Friday (from 81.4% for Walmart to 177.4% for Tractor Supply) but these spikes were not quite as large as the Black Friday surges for the leading three categories.
How Did Black Friday 2023 Compared to Black Friday 2022?
Comparing Black Friday visits to the YTD daily average visits showed a massive jump across the brick-and-mortar retail space. Yet, beyond the obvious values of these visit surges was the fact that, almost across the board, the relative increases were higher in 2023 than in the year prior. This behavior deepens the thought that Black Friday remains the most significant retail day for most retail categories and retailers, but also that the value orientation of the day was even more of a draw considering the wider economic context that has dominated headlines in recent months.
This same behavior was relevant in many retail segments, and stood out especially for those areas where the holiday season more generally – and Black Friday in particular – is uniquely critical. Electronics Retailers (including Best Buy) saw visits up 538.1% compared to the 2023 YTD daily average, while the category had seen an increase of 517.8% the year prior. Beauty & Self Care – which is proving to be one of the most inflation-resistant categories – saw a 375.0% increase in visits relative to the baseline last year, slightly lower than last year’s 390.1% boost – perhaps due to the segment’s strong performance throughout 2023. Department Stores, Recreational & Sporting Goods, Malls, and Apparel also saw needed boosts with visits up 338.1%, 322.9%, 270.4%, and 200.1% on their daily 2023 averages, compared to equivalent increases of 317.4%, 305.2%, 267.8%, and 195.4% in 2022.
Critically, some of this peak does come from the relative challenges faced in several of these segments in 2023 because of the wider economic challenges. Yet, it is also clear that the potential for the 2023 holiday season – led by its key retail holidays – can provide a needed end of year boost.
Did the Black Friday Impact Spill into the Weekend?
Although Black Friday is the main shopping event of the post-Thanksgiving weekend, many retailers continue offering sales on the following Saturday and Sunday – so how did foot traffic to key retail categories look over post-Black Friday weekend?
The three categories that saw the largest Black Friday boosts – Electronics Retailers, Beauty & Self Care, and Department Stores – continued enjoying significant visit spikes over the weekend. In terms of year-over-year performance, foot traffic to Electronics Retailers and Department Stores followed the same trend on the post-Black Friday weekend as it did on Black Friday itself, with a larger weekend visit surge in 2023 than in 2022. But Beauty & Self Care retailers enjoyed a larger weekend visit boost last year, indicating that some 2023 beauty consumers may have concentrated their shopping over Black Friday itself, when some of the best deals are offered.
Recreational & Sporting Goods retailers outperformed Malls and Apparel over Black Friday itself, but the segment fell behind Malls and Apparel over the weekend – so some Sporting Goods shoppers may have also focused their Black Friday budget on the special one-day deals.
Meanwhile, Superstores, which received a significant increase in visits the day after Thanksgiving, saw their Black Friday boost mostly subside by the weekend. Saturday and Sunday visits to the segment were more or less in line with average YTD Saturday and Sunday foot traffic levels.
The narrative surrounding Black Friday has largely centered around a long term decline in the day’s importance. And elements of this are true. The rise of other retail ‘holidays’ like Cyber Monday, owned deal days for leading retailers and the extended shopping season have created so many shopping opportunities that the relative peak has been diminished compared to pre-pandemic periods.
However, this should not be taken to mean that Black Friday has somehow lost its value, and few years emphasize the day’s continued centrality and importance like 2023’s iteration.
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