Blog > Data Enrichment > Black Friday 2023 Insights

Black Friday 2023 Insights

Glen Silverman | December 12, 2023

Classic Black Friday categories like Electronics, Sporting Goods, and Department Stores enjoyed a major traffic boost on the shopping holiday, but the retail category didn’t see much lift over last year’s traffic. Increased availability of online promotions and products throughout the holiday season led to more patient shopping behaviors.

Set the Stage

Black Friday is a bit different than it used to be. Gone are the days of deep discounts for the first people in line, and with the global supply chain issues easing over the last couple of years, customers aren’t so worried that their favorite product is going to be sold out. A lot of the same discounts that used to only be available in-store, can be found online, or even better, directly on your smartphone. Consumer trends are shifting more online, but Black Friday and the surrounding days remain very important for marketers and brands to capture market share and reach customers with relevant messaging to bring them back through the holiday season.

The Story

According to Adobe Analytics, this year’s online sales during Cyber Week were up almost 8% compared with last year. In addition, this is the first year that smartphone purchases outperformed those made on desktop. Even with YoY growth in online sales, Black Friday itself remains the biggest in-store shopping event for many brands. The retail vertical* had a 90% boost in traffic on the shopping holiday, and Electronics, Sporting Goods, and Department Stores led the way in terms of visit boosts – all with over 3x their normal traffic. Black Friday stalwarts like Apparel, Malls, and Big Box Stores all saw strong traffic, but not as much of a spike as the standout categories.

When we compare traffic with last year’s shopping holiday, we see a bit of a mixed bag. The overall retail vertical saw a modest increase of +1.5% YoY, with a few bright spots. Beauty Supply, Dollar Stores, and Jewelry categories were top performers, but we saw some sluggishness in the Electronics category. Best Buy, along with a slew of other major retailers, started running Black Friday discounts in early November. The availability of discounts earlier in the shopping season, both in-store and online, may have made people think twice about venturing out to the store on Black Friday.

*Retail vertical includes Apparel, Arts & Crafts, Beauty Supply, Big Box, Department, Dollar & Discount, Electronics, Furniture & Décor, Home Improvement, Jewelry, Malls, Pet, Shoe, Sporting Goods, and Video Games Stores.

Read our Audience Handbook

Precisely PlaceIQ Syndicated Audience Handbook

Read this handbook and explore real-world audiences to discover new and innovative ways to reach high-value consumers.

Since COVID, consumers have become more accustomed to holiday deals starting earlier in the season, but some products were scarce or had long lead times due to global supply chain issues and material shortages. Holiday deals starting in early November remains the norm, but with the supply chain issues alleviated, they can be more patient and get the deals they’re hunting for at their convenience. Black Friday advertising and messaging used to be centered on doorbuster deals, and early opening hours – a stark contrast from how retailers are advertising this year’s discounts and sales.

Circana’s Chief Retail Industry Advisor, Marshal Cohen, noted that “Black Friday was busy, but it didn’t have that classic Black Friday feeling. The morning bustle and hunt for hot new items was missing”. We found that early morning Black Friday shopping was less common at most retailers this year. Many categories that experienced traffic boosts on Black Friday (Electronics, Sporting Goods, Department Stores, Shoe Stores, and Video Games) also saw a drop in early morning traffic. Beauty Supply was the only category that saw the opposite effect, aligning with increased YoY traffic.

The Insight & Actions

Customer behavior around the holidays continues to evolve, and marketers can stay on top of these trends by monitoring consumer behavior and foot traffic. To activate on these insights during the holidays and beyond, you can target customers with PlaceIQ’s Black Friday, Holiday, and Retail Visitor audiences.

To learn more, read our Precisely PlaceIQ Syndicated Audience Handbook and explore real-world audiences to discover new and innovative ways to reach high-value consumers.