Money might be getting tight, but the current financial pressures seem to have little effect on consumers’ appetite for Black Friday shopping.
We’ve just stepped into the month of November and that can only mean one thing: Black Friday is inching closer and Americans are once again getting ready to hunt for deals and fill their carts with discounted goods. All self-respecting retailers and shops are going to offer some sort of discount, giving consumers the possibility to purchase items at much lower prices than usual.
This year, Black Friday will take place on November 24th, followed by Cyber Monday on the 27th, but plenty of companies have already started to roll out their Black Friday offers, which means that the holiday shopping season is already well underway. With deals and discounts starting much earlier and extending far beyond a 24-hour sale event, Black Friday has slowly morphed into a Black November in recent years, and this year doesn’t seem to be any different.
Unfortunately, the U.S. economic landscape isn’t looking too bright at the moment, with persistent inflation, soaring interest rates, rising housing costs and the restart of student loan payments putting a lot of pressure on people’s budgets. And yet, despite these financial hurdles, Black Friday sales are projected to reach new highs in 2023.
In the country that invented Black Friday, consumers are quite fond of this time-honored shopping tradition and don’t seem to have any plans to curtail their spending habits. In fact, many might be pulling more money out of their pockets this holiday season than they did last year, which means spending will most likely surge over the following weeks.
The figures of Black Friday past
Before we dive into Black Friday predictions for 2023, let’s take a look back at what happened last year. As expected, Black Friday was the biggest day for in-store and online shopping in the U.S., with almost 58% (196.7 million) of consumers taking part in the event, leading to record sales of $9.12 billion. At a global level, Black Friday online sales rose by 3.5% from the previous year, amounting to $65.3 billion.
While the spending growth didn’t come as a surprise, statistics revealed a significant shift in consumer behavior. Typically, people prepare for Black Friday well in advance, researching and analyzing offers, comparing prices and making lists of the products they plan to buy as soon as they go on sale. However, in 2022, the majority of consumers took a different approach as 74% of them jumped into Black Friday shopping with no plan in mind, letting retailers’ deals and offers guide their purchase decisions instead of focusing their attention on finding specific items.
Unsurprisingly, email, social media and paid ads were the most effective channels used by retailers to market their Black Friday offers, with paid search alone making up for 28% of all online sales. Overall, last year’s Black Friday was a real success as shown by the record-breaking figures.
What to expect this year
After the post-pandemic revenge spending, when people started to splurge on all sorts of goods and experiences in an attempt to make up for the time they’d lost during the lockdowns, the shopping frenzy cooled down in 2023. Despite the robust sales registered throughout the summer, consumers have become more cautious and might be looking to limit their expenses amid mounting economic headwinds.
Does this mean that shoppers are going to refrain from spending money on Black Friday? Not necessarily. In fact, data suggests that the exact opposite might happen. Experts predict that consumers will put aside their spending reluctance for the holiday season, swept by the multitude of offers and promotions that retailers are going to launch during this period. Black Friday sales are expected to rise by 7.5% and hit a new record of $9.8 billion.
According to Attest U.S. Q4 Shopper Trends Report, U.S. consumers are still excited to shop on Black Friday and have no intention to give up on this yearly tradition. An estimated 16% of shoppers are planning to spend between $201 and $300 this year, while the rest will stick to a budget of $101 to $200. Deloitte’s 2023 Holiday Retail Survey also points towards a notable increase in Black Friday spending. Moreover, some analysts believe that sales will exceed pre-pandemic figures this year. The Black Friday buzz is most likely going to be driven by young shoppers who are keener on hunting for bargains before the holidays.
But how does consumers’ enthusiasm for Black Friday reconcile with the tough economic outlook in the U.S.? Attest CEO Jeremy King offers a simple explanation for the phenomenon. U.S. consumers still think that shopping on Black Friday is a great way to find substantial discounts and save money, especially when it comes to high-priced items. With so many special offers and promotions rolled out by retailers, the chances of bagging a bargain are much higher than in the rest of the year.
Shoppers also tend to refrain from making large purchases in the weeks leading up to Black Friday. This could also explain why many retailers experienced a decrease in foot traffic numbers recently. Consumers simply choose to postpone their shopping sprees in anticipation of Black Friday deals.
Whether Black Friday deals are worth it or not remains a topic for discussion. However, retailers’ forecasts and projections clearly indicate that Black Friday remains a major event for U.S. shoppers as not even the current economic impediments can curb their enthusiasm and their willingness to hunt for a good bargain. So, once again, we’re getting ready for a season of shopping frenzy as we’re approaching the end of the year.