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We Asked U.S. Customers About Their Black Friday Shopping Habits

Black Friday is the most important day of the year for much of the retail industry, which means it holds a great deal of significance for retail landlords as well.

How successful Black Friday is for stores and shopping centers largely depends on whether customers keep showing up — and whether they keep showing up depends on how they feel about those stores, Black Friday and holiday shopping in general.

Shoppers waiting outside a Macy's in New York on Black Friday in 2012.

That is why Bisnow decided to conduct its own survey of the general public through SurveyMonkey: to get a sense of how the average U.S. consumer feels about Black Friday with the Thanksgiving weekend approaching, and how people plan to spend their time and money.

Out of 698 respondents across occupations, ages, education and income levels, hailing from 47 states, Puerto Rico and Washington, D.C., 59% said they plan on shopping on Black Friday this year. The remaining 41% were split evenly between respondents who don't plan on participating in Black Friday and those who aren't sure.

Even though some stores regularly open as early as the afternoon of Thanksgiving these days, Black Friday still bears the popular image as a day of chaotic crowds. Among those who don't plan on shopping on Black Friday, 54% cited stores being too crowded as the reason for abstaining.


Even within the day's shoppers lies a continuation of a trend that might worry retailers: More than 52% of respondents plan to do their shopping online, compared to around 18% each for big-box stores and major malls.

The real estate industry is filled with people convinced that wherever there is a problem, the right built environment can unlock a solution. But Bisnow's survey doesn't indicate that shoppers' reason for staying home is one that can be addressed with different real estate choices: 83% of respondents said they were satisfied with their local shopping choices.

Though there is some disagreement, reports from analytics firms like Deloitte indicate that consumer spending will be strong through the holiday season. On Black Friday, however, the bulk of shoppers will focus on stretching their dollar; 78% of Bisnow respondents who said they will be shopping on the day after Thanksgiving cited discounts as their primary reason. The second-most popular reason, at a comparatively meager 10%, is for the experience to spend time with family.


Over 39% of respondents to Bisnow's survey said they plan to spend no more than $500 on Black Friday, compared to 31% who plan to spend less than $200 and 19% who plan to spend less than $1,000. Just under 10% plan to spend over $1,000 on Black Friday.

Some retailers, especially apparel sellers and department stores, are depending on the upcoming holiday season to convince lenders and investors that they are trending in the right direction — rather than toward liquidation. Such retailers may be encouraged by the 68% of respondents who said they plan to buy clothing on Black Friday.

The second most popular category was household goods, a selection of just over 50% of respondents. The main tech categories of televisions, phones and computers followed closely behind.


Though the survey itself is not enough to draw any definitive conclusions, it reflects what many have anecdotally observed about holiday shopping: Though e-commerce has become incredibly important to the retail landscape, it has not erased the viability or appeal of brick-and-mortar retail. 

A meaningful portion of shoppers plan to visit multiple stores and spend hundreds of dollars at the stores in deepest need of a holiday boost. Whether that portion is big enough to keep brands like J. Crew or Neiman Marcus around for Black Friday 2020 remains to be seen.