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Black Friday Retail May Never Return To ‘Former Glory’ As Online Sales Best Brick-And-Mortar For Another Year

Despite high hopes of a brick-and-mortar revival, preliminary foot traffic reports show Black Friday 2022 brought in fewer shoppers than last year even as online sales grew to new heights.


Reports from several organizations tracking shopping activity show that while in-person retail outlets tripled their average daily traffic during the annual pre-holiday shop-a-thon, that trailed expectations, given hopes the ebbing of pandemic-related fears would draw customers in droves.

Yet consumers weren't exactly pinching pennies even if they mostly stayed home. Despite inflation and an uncertain economy, retailers racked up $9.12B on Black Friday online sales, according to Adobe Analytics — a 2.3% increase over 2021.’s Black Friday 2022 First Look indicates foot traffic at indoor malls and outdoor malls dropped 2.3% and 3.9%, respectively, from Black Friday 2021. This represents a 14.2% drop for indoor malls and 17.8% drop for outlet malls from Black Friday 2019.

Indoor malls did see far more traffic than any other day of the year, with Placer recording a 261% increase from the daily average of the first three quarters of the year and outlet malls seeing a 365.8% increase.

But that was below predictions and an indication of what Vice President of Marketing Ethan Chernofsky called "the ongoing decline of Black Friday's centrality."

Lower than expected in-person visits "will only fuel the narrative of Black Friday's ongoing decline,” Chernofsky told Bisnow. “The challenge is that Black Friday does remain a significant  if not the most significant day for visits for many retailers. The balancing act becomes ensuring you leverage Black Friday to its fullest while learning to diversify.”

Retailers have increasingly turned to omnichannel strategies combining the advantages of in-store shopping with the convenience of e-commerce since the pandemic forced shoppers online almost overnight. And they have stretched the bounds of Black Friday shopping by expanding it over weeks instead of a single day.

CBRE’s survey of personnel at 13 malls and outdoor mixed-use centers it manages painted a slightly more optimistic picture, finding foot traffic had ticked up from last year, though that was largely due to stores that had heavy discounts of 50% or more off apparel and other goods. 

Retailers offering the steepest discounts consistently had lines outside of the store, CBRE reported. It also noted services like "buy now-pay later," allowing consumers to pay in installments, were in demand from shoppers as they navigate increased economic pressure.

“Shoppers gravitated to heavy discounts and to traffic-drivers like Santa visits and selfie-inspiring experiences, which we anticipate will continue to attract foot traffic throughout the season," CBRE Americas Head of Retail Research Brandon Isner said in a statement. "Price inflation will remain a headwind for shoppers this season, so it’s likely that discounts will play a sustained role in generating interest this season.” also saw increases in traffic at discount and dollar stores. That traffic increased 1.1% over 2021 and 15.3% over 2019, according to the report. These stores are benefiting from two important trends, Chernofsky said.

“They are uniquely well-positioned to provide value in a period where economic constraints are significant and they have been growing aggressively, aligning them with important migration patterns,” he said.

While the traffic spike at discount and dollar stores was not as stark as at malls on Black Friday, unlike malls, it was consistent with previous years. For example, T.J. Maxx’s Black Friday traffic did not drop from last year — recorded a 0% change — but it was only 127% higher than during the first three weeks of November this year.

Meanwhile, the definition of Black Friday is evolving.

Black Friday at Walmart, for one, offered a much different environment than in 2014 and 2015, when it opened as early as 6 p.m. on Thanksgiving, or 2008, when a Walmart employee was trampled to death by a crowd rushing in for Black Friday deals. 

This year, Walmart opened at a more conservative 6 a.m. on Black Friday. Placer recorded its Black Friday traffic was down 5.3% from 2021 and just 77.1% higher than an average day this year.

But as it has for two years running, Walmart implemented the monthlong Deals for Days sale event, joining competitors like Kohl's and Target in getting the Black Friday deals going early.

“It does appear that retailers are also finding value in extending the holiday shopping season and limiting the dependency on Black Friday,” Chernofsky said.

“If this is in fact the case, it's hard to see Black Friday's prominence returning to its former glory.”

Walmart also offered its Deals for Days sales online first. Unlike foot traffic, online sales doubled expectations, Seeking Alpha reported, with Cyber Monday sales predicted to exceed Black Friday, burnishing e-commerce's supremacy.

Beauty and spa stores were the biggest winners for foot traffic, according to, with traffic increasing 14.6% from Black Friday 2021 and 64.6% from Black Friday 2019. Ulta Beauty drove the charge, posting foot traffic increases of 16.5% over 2021 and 31% over 2019.

Department stores lost the most foot traffic. recorded a 9% drop from last year and a 29.3% drop from 2019.