Dec 3, 2020 - Economy & Business

The silver lining in 2020's weak Black Friday sales

Data: Placer.ai; Chart: Axios Visuals
Data: Placer.ai; Chart: Axios Visuals

Black Friday was disappointing for retailers this year, as spending numbers underwhelmed and foot traffic declined dramatically, according to data from analytics firm Placer.ai.

By the numbers: Customer visits were down, on average, more than 26% compared to Black Friday 2019 at the six retailers Placer tracked.

The big picture: The National Retail Federation said Tuesday that more than 186 million shoppers purchased something online or in-store from Thanksgiving through Cyber Monday, down from 190 million a year ago.

  • Shoppers spent an average of $312, a 14% decline from $362 in 2019.

What they're saying: “It’s going to be a tough holiday season for most retailers,” Paula Rosenblum, managing partner at RSR Research, told the Washington Post.

  • “Target, Walmart, grocers and sporting goods stores are cleaning up, but hundreds of thousands of independent retailers have already gone out of business. Things are going to get worse before they get better."

Yes, but: Retailers didn't roll out the red carpet on sales and consumers still came. The 186.4 million shoppers this year was down from 2019 but significantly higher than the 165.8 million shoppers in 2018.

  • “As we’ve been suggesting since early pandemic days, when retailers stopped ordering product, manufacturers stopped making it, triggering broad-based inventory scarcity and allowing retailers a unique opportunity to pull back on promotions, regain pricing power, and elevate profits,” BMO Capital Markets’ Simeon Siegel told Barron's.
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