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Black Friday In-Store Shopping Spikes From 2020, Still Can’t Touch 2019 Numbers

Black Friday U.S. retail sales bounced back this year from the doldrums of 2020, with physical-store sales doing especially well. Sales at stores are still lower than they were in 2019, however, before the coronavirus pandemic.


RetailNext, which tracks shopper counts in physical retail properties nationwide with cameras and sensors, reported that store traffic was up 60.8% on Black Friday this year compared with 2020 but down 27% from 2019. Sales at stores were down only 5.1% this year compared with 2019 and up 46.4% compared with last year.

“Part of [the increase] is attributed to Covid fatigue,” retail tech company Sensormatic Senior Director Brian Field told The Wall Street Journal. “Part of that is that there is a continued push earlier in the season for shopping."

Online retail sales were slightly down on Black Friday this year compared with last, according to Adobe Analytics, coming in at $8.9B. Last year, online sales on Black Friday totaled $9B. Online sales on Thanksgiving Day itself were flat at $5.1B, the first time sales didn’t increase since 2012, when Adobe began tracking those sales.

On the other hand, online sales during the week from the Tuesday before Thanksgiving to Cyber Monday will set an all-time record despite higher prices and fewer discounts, Salesforce predicts.

Online sales were already up 10% year-over-year during the first three weeks of November, Salesforce reports, with consumers ordering earlier than usual to get ahead of potential supply problems. The flatness of e-commerce sales on Black Friday itself may be a function of consumers spreading their purchases out over a longer period.

The biggest retail winners on Black Friday were the biggest retailers, which is a continuation of the advantage they already hold. 

"People certainly seem to be out in the big mass merchants — Walmart and Target were extremely busy," AlixPartners Managing Director Joel Rampoldt told Retail Dive.

Though the international supply chain for U.S. retailers is still tangled, most shoppers have largely been able to find what they are looking for, either at physical stores or online, Rampoldt said.