Black Friday reclaimed its relevance as the key retail milestone on the way to Christmas.
Sales on Black Friday rose 12% to $34.9 billion, above the prior record of $31.2 billion set in pre-pandemic 2019, reported Customer Growth Partners, which has been tracking retail sales since 2001. Sales were up 18% from $29.7 billion in 2020.
According to CGP, the new Black Friday record was driven by three factors, starting with Thanksgiving Day store closures, which pushed demand back from Thursday evening to Friday. A host of retailers and malls shuttered their doors on the holiday similar to last year. Other factors boosting Black Friday sales were the declining online penetration of total sales and the ongoing rise in disposable personal income and spending.
CGP president Craig Johnson cautioned that despite the stellar Black Friday results the company’s nationwide field team saw in malls and other venues, there are still 33 days left in the holiday shopping period.
“In fact, much of the retail growth we’ve seen comes from shopping deferred from Thanksgiving itself or demand pulled forward from Saturday — which looked a lot like a typical early November Saturday,” he added.
The Black Friday strength was so robust—particularly for apparel and department stores, both of which saw results even pre-COVID—that “some demand is even being pulled forward from December, resulting in the dreaded early-December lull,” Johnson continued.
CGP is maintaining its below-consensus forecast of 6.7% growth for the holiday season, citing sky-rocketing inflation, gasoline prices 60% above last year and supply chain challenges,
Other early findings from CGP’s field research are below.
- Promotions slowed slightly over Black Friday for the 16 apparel chains CGP tracks, as 11 merchants showed an average easing of 9.5%. Five saw no change.
- Stock-outs were most evident in footwear and paper categories, along with specific item sell-outs, ranging from Sony’s PlayStation 5 to LOL dolls to artificial Christmas trees.
- For the full season—and including recent results—CGP estimates that digital sales will comprise some 24% of total sales, down from 26% in recent months.
[Read More: Black Friday online spending falls amid early promotions and deals]
The CGP data span all retail sales except autos/part, gasoline/oil and restaurants.