Shopping Traffic Sinks on Black Friday

Black Friday is usually the day when retail becomes a national sport, and crowds in stores get so large and out of hand, there are sometimes riots.

Not this year.

Data provided by Sensormatic Solutions, a retail consulting company, said that in-store shopper traffic on Black Friday this year declined by over half what it was last year, as the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic kept many shoppers at home and many stores closed.

The group’s data showed that shopper visits dropped 52.1% on Black Friday, compared to 2019. Shopper traffic also decreased 45.2% in the week leading up to Black Friday (Sunday, Nov. 22, to Friday, Nov. 27), compared to the same period last year.

“Due to COVID-19 and social distancing requirements, shoppers were more purposeful in their in-person Black Friday shopping, causing significantly less crowds than we’ve seen in the past,” said Brian Field, senior director of global retail consulting for Sensormatic Solutions, in a statement. “This was compounded by retailers not offering as many in-store doorbusters and the increasing adoption of e-commerce.”

On Thanksgiving Day, the drop was particularly steep, with traffic sinking 94.9% compared to the prior year.

Field noted the drop likely stems from many retailers not opening on Turkey day this year, in part because they didn’t want crowds in the store.

He said that while some of the Black Friday drop-off is due to COVID-19, it also syncs with larger trends.

“With Black Friday deals being spread throughout the holiday season, the typical holiday traffic peaks are flattening, with more days sharing importance throughout the season,” he said.

Some of the traffic that didn’t make it to the mall on Black Friday may show up on Super Saturday, Dec. 19, the Saturday before the Christmas holiday, Field said, as shoppers make last-minute purchases. That is expected to be one of the top shopping days this season, he said.

(Image credit: Emili Vesilind)


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JCK News Director