Black Friday Breaks Online Sales Record, But What About Stores?

Jamie Grill-Goodman
Editor in Chief
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Shoppers hit the stores, and the screens, on Black Friday.

Online retail spending on the storied shopping day surpassed 2021 by 2.3%, according to Adobe Analytics, as U.S. shoppers spent a record $9.12 billion online, compared to $8.92 billion in 2021 and up from $9.03 billion in 2020.

[Above: The line at 7 a.m. for the opening of the American Dream mall in New Jersey]

“As Black Friday hit record spending online, we’re also seeing more prominent signs of a budget-conscious consumer this year,” Vivek Pandya, lead analyst, Adobe Digital Insights, reportedly said. “Shoppers are embracing the Buy Now Pay Later (BNPL) payment method more this year to be able to buy desired gifts for family and friends.”

Shopping Takeaways

The term “sale” was the 10th most commonly searched word this year, compared to last year when the term ranked 35th. -Searchspring data from Nov. 24 – 25 

Consumers avoided long lines with Buy Online Pick Up In Store (BOPIS) trending 20% higher on Black Friday compared to all other days this season. -Salesforce data

Ulta Beauty was the brand with the best Black Friday (foot traffic), which saw visits up 16.5% YOY and 31% compared to 2019. T.J. Maxx saw visits flat (up 0%) YOY and up 2.8% compared to 2019. Most other brands analyzed saw visits fall YOY and compared to 2019. Electronics stores saw visits up almost 25% compared to Black Friday 2019. data from BlackFriday (November 25)

BNPL transactions through Afterpay grew 120%. Trending Afterpay searches: PS5 (+142%), Nintendo Switch (132%), Xbox (100%). -Square and Afterpay's Black Friday, Cyber Monday findings

U.S. retail sales on Black Friday were up 12% year-over-year excluding automotive, according to Mastercard SpendingPulse, which measures both in-store and online retail sales across all forms of payment (not adjusted for inflation). In-store sales increased 12% year-over-year, while e-commerce sales experienced sustained growth up 14% year-over-year, according to Mastercard data.

Sensormatic Solutions saw a 2.9% increase in traffic on Black Friday, compared to 2021, according to preliminary shopper visit data for U.S. brick-and-mortar retail stores and shopping centers. Visits to physical stores on Thanksgiving Day, November 24, increased by 19.7% year-over-year. It also found enclosed mall traffic increased 1.2% and non-mall traffic (e.g., lifestyle centers, strip centers and standalone stores) increased 4.7% compared to Black Friday 2021.

“This Black Friday, retailers offered promotions across channels leading to strong year-over-year growth online and in-store,” said Steve Sadove, senior advisor for Mastercard and former CEO and chairman of Saks Incorporated. “Apparel, Electronics, and Restaurants were strong performing sectors as consumers turned holiday shopping into a full day experience.”

“With holiday promotions kicking off long before the Thanksgiving weekend, consumers have been shopping strategically for the season’s best deals,” said Michelle Meyer, North America chief economist, Mastercard Economics Institute. "Retailers delivered on Black Friday with deals that enticed consumers to fill their carts despite the inflationary environment."

The Store Experience

Kohl's CFO Jill Timm said earlier this month that the department store is moving back into some of its electronics – “smart home, TVs, things that we haven’t necessarily participated in, but we know are big Black Friday deal drivers for people to come to the store.”

American Dream Mall on Black Friday
Here and above: The line at 7 a.m. for the opening of the American Dream mall in East Rutherford, NJ, where the first 500 visitors received free tickets to attractions inside the mall. Photo credit: Jamie Goodman.

The American Dream mall in East Rutherford, NJ, lured Black Friday shoppers with giveaways for the first 500 visitors, which included postcards with codes for free tickets to its attractions, such as Angry Birds Mini Golf. The 3 million-square-foot mall also rolled out its “Wheel of Wins” which offers shoppers who spend $200 a chance to spin to win one of several prizes, including ten 65-inch Samsung QLED Smart TVs from Best Buy, from every Monday and Wednesday from November 28 to December 21.

Shopping malls saw far and above average visits, according to Black Friday data from foot traffic analytics firm Indoor malls saw visits up 261% compared to the daily average for Q1-Q3 2022, outlet malls saw visits up almost 366%, and open-air lifestyle centers saw visits up around 151%.

As we expected, Black Friday deals and the in-store experience attracted shoppers, resulting in a solid turnout this year,” said Brian Field, global leader of retail consulting and analytics at Sensormatic Solutions. “The pandemic-driven trend of shopping in unenclosed shopping centers has endured and malls are seeing resurgence as well. Our data shows consumers continue to enjoy the benefits of the brick-and-mortar shopping.”

Cyber Monday

While Black Friday looks like it was a record breaker, Cyber Monday is expected to remain the season’s and year’s biggest shopping day, driving a record $11.2 billion in spending, increasing 5.1% year-over-year, according to Adobe Analytics’ online shopping forecast for the 2022 holiday season.

[See also: Holiday Retail Forecasts and Predictions for 2022]

“Even though we expect to see single-digit growth online this season, it is notable that consumers have already spent over $590 billion online this year (Jan. to Aug. 2022) at 8.9% growth, highlighting the resiliency of e-commerce demand,” said Patrick Brown, vice president of growth marketing and insights at Adobe.

The National Retail Federation expects 63.9 million consumers to shop online during Cyber Monday.

[See more: Thanksgiving Weekend: What’s Ahead for Retailers Black Friday Through Cyber Monday]