Black Friday is the day after Thanksgiving, November 23, 2018, and the busiest shopping day of the year. It kicks off the critical holiday season, where retailers make between 20%-40% of their annual revenue.

What Is Black Friday?
Photo: Kondoros Éva Katalin/Getty Images

Black Friday Weekend Sales Statistics

Black Friday 2016 set another record, as 101.7 million people surveyed said they would shop on Black Friday itself. This is up from the 97,6 million in 2017, 74 million in 2015, 89 million in 2014 and 85 million in 2013.

During the Black Friday 2017 weekend, each shopper burned through $380.95, lower than in the past three years: $407.23 in 2016, $423 set in 2015, $398 in 2014.

In total, they spent $50.9 billion, also the lowest in the last three years: $57.4 billion in 2013, $59.1 billion in 2012, and $52.4 billion spent in 2011. At least it’s 16% more than in 2010.

During the three-day Black Friday weekend, 140.1 million people shopped, down a bit from the 140.3 million who did in 2013. This is much less than the 147 million people who shopped in 2012, but more than the 126 million in 2011.

In addition, only 25.6 million bothered leaving their homes on Turkey Day itself. This is way down from the 45 million who took advantage last year, and the 35 million in 2012. (Source: National Retail Federation, 2014 Thanksgiving Sales Projections, November 20, 2014; Americans Gobbled Up Thanksgiving Weekend Deals, December 1, 2013)

Holiday Season Sales Statistics

Black Friday officially kicks off the holiday shopping season, which now lasts from Thanksgiving Day itself to Christmas Eve.

The National Retail Federation reported retail sales rose a healthy 4.1% to $616.9 billion in 2014.

The holiday shopping season is critical for the economy because around 20% of retail sales occur between Black Friday and Christmas. For some retailers, such as jewelers, it’s even higher — nearly 40%.

However, the NRF is usually overly optimistic. In 2013, it predicted $602.1 billion in sales, but only $592.6 billion was actually sold. This was just a 2.3% increase over the $579.1 billion spent in 2012, which was itself just a 3.5% rise.In fact, it’s more likely that sales will be lower than the 10-year average of 3.5% that occurred before the 2008 financial crisis. It’s also worse than the 5.6% sales increase in 2011.

Why Are Sales Down?

What’s caused the softening in retail sales? First, shoppers are turning away from their previous love affair with credit card debt. Instead, families are more likely to use money they saved or layaway. That means 41.9% use debit cards, 24% use cash, and 2.3% pay by check. Only 31.8% whip out the plastic to pay for holiday shopping.

Instead of using credit cards, families take advantage of low-interest rate loans to buy durable goods, like washing machines, televisions and automobiles. For more, see Average Consumer Debt Statistics.

Second, Halloween sales are disappointing. Only $7.4 billion will be spent, up from the $6.9 billion spent last year, but down from the record $8 billion spent in 2012. Halloween is the “canary in the coalmine” for retail, since it’s a very affordable holiday. Most important, 40% of holiday shoppers start before Halloween. For more, see Halloween Retail Sales.

Third, families are still concerned about the health of the economy. Last year’s government shutdown and recurrent debt crises created an air of uncertainty for consumers and businesses alike. Companies hesitated to create full-time, good-paying jobs. Consumers won’t spend without the assurance of steady incomes.

Shift to Thrift

Ever since the recession, retail trends show a shift to thrift. This is not just a search for the lowest price, but also an interest in finding the best value for the price. The 2014 Black Friday survey shows the same. Nearly half (47.1%) said they looking in advertising circulars for the best deals, 35% signed up for retailer’s emails, 20.2% paid attention to TV commercials, and 21.3% relied on word of mouth.

Smartphones and tablets are being used much more than in the past to find the bargains. Less than half (45.4%) of those who own smartphones, and just about two-thirds (47.4%) of those who own tablets, will use them to not only research, but just go ahead and purchase products online.

Black Friday Hiring

The NRF reported that stores are hiring between 720,000 and 780,000 seasonal workers this holiday season, more than the 720,500 they hired in 2012, the 607,000 they hired in 2011 and the the 495,000 workers in 2010.

What Shoppers Spend

Although 2014 results aren’t broken down this way, the 2013 NRF poll revealed that each shopper spent $737.95 for the entire holiday season that year. This is less tan the $752.24 they spent in 2012. While it’s less than the all-time high of $755 spent in 2007, at least it’s more than the recessionary low of $682 spent in 2009. More than half of shoppers admit economic worries are affecting them, while nearly 80% said they must spend less, cut corners and tighten budgets wherever they can. For more than half, this means fewer gifts for themselves.

Here’s how much the average shopper will spend:

  • Family members – $415 (down from $423.36 spent last year).
  • Themselves – $129.62 (down from $140.43 last year).
  • Food and candy – $100.35.
  • Friends – $72.14.
  • Decorations – $51.60.
  • Greeting cards – $28.03.
  • Pets, community members and others – $25.63.
  • Co-workers – $23.59
  • Flowers – $21.12.

(Source: National Retail Federation 2014 Survey) Article updated May 29, 2015.

Holiday FAQ

Leave A Reply