Consumers were back in stores on Black Friday as shopper visits increased by 2.9% compared to last year. The foot traffic to non-indoor mall locations, including lifestyle centers, open-air malls, neighborhood centers, and stand-alones, increased by 4.7%. “The strong traffic numbers for Black Friday show that shoppers are returning to stores and enjoying the socialization the holiday brings,” said Brian Field, global leader of retail consulting and analytics at Sensormatic Solutions.

Back to the stores

In an interview with Field, he discussed that shoppers are returning to a new normal after more than two years of pandemic living. “Unified commerce continues to be important as shoppers use both online and physical stores to enhance the overall shopping experience.” Consumers started holiday purchasing early this year, with 52% of respondents in a recent survey stating they began shopping earlier this year. “There is a higher degree of purchasing with shoppers this year who are much more committed when they get to the stores,” said Field.

Stores are using tools to help manage crowds by monitoring store occupancy levels, a feature that Sensormatic Controls provides its users. Many stores that anticipated a higher traffic volume used stanchions to ensure there were not large crowds by limiting the number of shoppers in a store.

The ten days of Christmas

Consumer sentiment data showed that price, availability, and convenience were among the top factors shoppers considered when deciding when to shop this year, according to the data released by Sensormatic Solutions. Field advised retailers to keep an eye on foot traffic patterns as the holiday shopping season continues. The ten busiest U.S. shopping days in 2022 will likely account for 40% of all holiday traffic.

Super Saturday is earlier in the season, on December 17th and is the fourth busiest day of the holiday season behind Black Friday, December 23rd and December 26th. And with Christmas falling on a Sunday this year, the flow of shoppers may break the traditional cycle. Sensormatic Solutions expects holiday traffic to be distributed differently than in recent years. While this deviation is unlikely to affect overall volume, retailers may need to adjust their approach to account for the earlier Super Saturday and Christmas Sunday. “The last time Christmas fell on a Sunday was back in 2016,” Field said. “That means historical data will be crucial to retailers as we head into December.

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Shopify merchants show record sales

From the start of Black Friday in New Zealand through the end of Black Friday in California, businesses on Shopify generated a 17% increase in sales versus Black Friday in 2021. Black Friday sales of $3.36 billion globally from Shopify’s millions of merchants worldwide were record-setting. The U.S. highlights from merchants that use Shopify showed the following:

  • 12:00 pm (EST) was the peak sales hour
  • $113.25 was the average cart price
  • Apparel and accessories was the top product category
  • POS sales made by Shopify merchants increased by 25% over last year

“Black Friday and Cyber Monday have grown into a full-on shopping season. The weekend that started it all is still one of the biggest commerce events of the year, and our merchants have broken Black Friday sales records again,” said Harley Finkelstein, president of Shopify.

Black Friday surpasses $9 billion online

A record $9.1 billion was spent online for Black Friday, up 2.3% YoY, according to data from Adobe Analytics. The Electronics category was a significant growth driver, with online sales up 221% over the average day in October 2022. Smart home items (up 271%) and audio equipment (up 230%) sold particularly well. Toys remained a strong category (up 285%), while exercise equipment also performed well (up 218%).

Adobe Analytics stated in its report that as online spending picked up, consumers dealing with inflation and higher prices are embracing flexible payments. Buy Now Pay Later (BNPL) orders for the holiday shopping week rose by 78% compared to last year. Additionally, 48% of online sales transactions were done with smartphones, up from 44% last year.

CyberMonday Reigns Supreme

Adobe projects Cyber Monday to remain the season’s and the year’s biggest online shopping day at $11.2 billion, up 5.1% YoY. Adobe expects Cyber Week (the five days from Thanksgiving Day through Cyber Monday) to generate $34.8 billion in online spending, up 2.8% YoY. Cyber Week is projected to represent 16.3% of online revenue for November and December.

The holiday season is off to a great start for online and physical retail stores. Black Friday is traditionally the day that moves retailers from the red (loss) to the black (profit), but questions remain over whether the deep discounting this year will keep some retailers stuck in the red.

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