Black Friday Sales Drop Significantly from Previous Year

By Abby Shamray,
Domestic News Writer

151 million people, or 61.7 percent of consumers, shopped online or in-person this holiday weekend, according to the National Retail Federation. Each individual spent an average of $299.60. A survey from the International Council of Shopping Centers found that Black Friday shoppers visited an average of 3.3 stores and purchased at least one item from 2.8 stores. According to data from Foursquare, Black Friday shoppers spent an average of 4.9 hours in brick-and-mortar stores.

Prior to Black Friday, news outlets had a dim outlook on how much traffic stores would get due to the fact that the economy is still in recovery.

Macy’s, Nordstrom, Urban Outfitters, and Dillard’s reported poor earnings results in mid-November. According to ShopperTrak, sales in stores totaled $12.1 billion, 11 percent less than last year’s $13.6 billion.

RetailNext, an in-store analytics software, said that over the holiday weekend, in-store traffic fell 1.5 percent at brick-and-mortar outlets.

CNN reported that the slowed pace of Black Friday sales may be because more consumers reported shopping earlier in the season and that more retailers are choosing to have sustained sales over a longer period of time, rather than on one day of massive sales.

Foursquare chief operating officer, Jeff Glueck, recently wrote on his blog, “While Black Friday deals abound,… it’s important for retailers to think about winning not just Black Friday, but the whole extended ‘Black November’ and throughout the season.”

Terry Lundgren, the chief executive of Macy’s, said that after Black Friday, he was confident about the rest of the holiday shopping season. 15,000 shoppers visited his Herald Square flagship store. “We know that they still have a savings account that’s greater than last year, so if they choose to spend, they can,” he told the Washington Post.

Macy’s, along with Best Buy and JC Penney, bucked the trend of decreased brick-and-mortar sales. They individually saw an increase of 400 percent of foot traffic compared to a normal Friday. In contrast, Walmart only saw a 150 percent increase, according to Inc.

Mobile shopping may be usurping traditional brick-and-mortar Black Friday rushes.

Newsweek reported that over 36 percent of online sales this Black Friday came from mobile shopping, which encompasses smartphones and tablets. Data from IBM indicated that 57.2 percent of all online shopping-related traffic came from mobile devices, a first in Black Friday history. Digital sales in total netted $8 billion over the four-day weekend, up 17 percent from last year, as reported by the Adobe Index, which tracks the top 100 retailers.

Amazon reported that it was able to improve on last year’s Black Friday sales. 500 items were purchased per second, and the online retailer added new deals every five minutes to lure in customers.

Slice Intelligence, which gathers e-commerce data, reported that Amazon accounted for 35.7 percent of e-commerce spending on Black Friday. Best Buy, Macy’s, Walmart, and Nordstrom were the next top four online sales retailers by a wide margin.

Glueck said in a statement, “Since many retailers play well in both digital and physical shopping, strong omnichannel brands may still end seeing overall sales gains, but others will not be able to make up the gap.”

Despite the growing popularity of online shopping, Custora, a software company who caters to retailers, Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and other social media sites only drove 1.7 percent of total online sales on Black Friday. Email promotions, though, drove 25 percent of Black Friday online sales.

Following in past year’s footsteps, the most sought after items were children’s toys. An analyst for the Adobe told the New York Post, “Two of the top five toys are ‘Star Wars’-related and there are some of the futuristic sci-fi film’s products like the BB-8 droid that’s out of stock just about everywhere.”

According to WESH 2 News, Black Friday was a record day for gun sales.
The FBI received more than 180,000 gun background checks that day. More background checks were requested in Florida than on any other day this year.

Luis Lugo, a manager at Instant Replay Gun & Pawn in Orlando, FL, said he believes this spike is indicative of a larger trend and expects that gun purchases will grow even further into the holiday season.

Cyber Monday yielded a large number of online sales as well. The Washington Post reported that $3.07 billion were spent online Monday.
Since many retailers are beginning to offer online deals on Black Friday and other holidays as well, experts note that its growth was slow compared to other years.


A version of this article appeared in the Tuesday, December 8th print edition.

Contact Abby at


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