Black Friday retail traffic stuck below pre-pandemic levels

In-store activity dipped 28.3% from 2019 as online shopping dropped off from 2020 record

National /
Nov.November 29, 2021 06:00 PM
Traffic was up 47.5 percent from last year, when coronavirus restrictions and concerns were more rampant. (iStock, Getty)

Traffic was up 47.5 percent from last year, when coronavirus restrictions and concerns were more rampant. (iStock, Getty)

Even after the peak of the pandemic, Black Friday no longer appears to be the saving grace of retailers around the country.

Retail traffic in the United States dropped 28.3 percent from 2019’s holiday, according to preliminary data from Sensormatic Solutions reported by CNBC. The data show traffic was up 47.5 percent from last year, when coronavirus restrictions and concerns were more rampant.

Sensormatic still predicts that Black Friday will mark the biggest in-store shopping day of the calendar year. But increased online shopping activity and supply chain concerns have shifted customers’ shopping timelines earlier in the season.

In-store traffic on Thanksgiving Day itself was also down drastically from 2019, Sensormatic data revealed. The 90.4 percent drop in two years was likely furthered by the closure of some stores on the third Thursday, including Target, which announced its locations would be closed for all future Thanksgivings.

While Black Friday in-store traffic rose year-over-year, the day’s online sales fell from 2020, according to Adobe Analytics data reported by CNBC. The $8.9 billion recorded this year fell just short of last year’s $9 million, a record for the day. The decline marked the first ever recorded by Adobe.

Customers spent $5.1 billion on Thanksgiving Day online, Adobe recorded, approximately flat from last year’s sales numbers.

Monday should mark a banner day for online retailers, as Cyber Monday has become a shopping holiday across the country. Adobe is forecasting sales on Monday to range between $10.2 billion and $11.3 billion, CNBC reported.

Last year’s holiday shopping was hampered by the pandemic. Despite falling case counts from the pandemic’s peak and widespread vaccinations, emerging concerns about the omicron variant cast a cloud over this year’s shopping holiday.

However, Sensormatic’s senior director of global retail consulting told the outlet he doesn’t think the variant is spelling doom and gloom just yet.

“If you start seeing outbreaks in the U.S., the thing that I think would drive [traffic down] would be if governments and communities start locking down again,” Brian Field told CNBC. “Otherwise, I think the trends will be very similar to what we expect them to be.”

[CNBC] — Holden Walter-Warner





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