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Black Friday is the day after Thanksgiving. Retailers typically offer steep discounts on Black Friday to kick off the holiday season.
Black Friday is an informal name used to describe the day after Thanksgiving. It’s often the busiest shopping day of the year because it kicks off the holiday season. This season is crucial for the economy, especially for some retailers, such as jewelers.
According to the National Retail Federation (NRF), 84.2 million people shopped in stores on Black Friday in 2019, and 37.8 million people shopped in stores on Thanksgiving Day. A total of 189.6 million people shopped over the four-day Black Friday weekend in 2019, a 14% increase over 2018.1 Black Friday wasn’t the biggest shopping day of the year in 2019, though. That honor went to Super Saturday, which is the Saturday before Christmas.
Unfortunately, 2020’s holiday shopping season may look very different from past years because of the COVID-19 pandemic. While the NRF’s October survey found that shoppers plan to spend about 1% less than they did in 2019, it also found that about 53% of shoppers say they plan to spend more this year because they won’t be traveling for the holidays. Even with free shipping, 44% of shoppers still plan to pay online and pick up gifts in store.2
The NRF usually releases its outlook for the coming holiday spending/shopping season in October, but it has delayed it for 2020 due to the coronavirus pandemic. The NRF plans to release its forecast when it has more data and insights to base its projections on. The Balance will update content accordingly.3
Black Friday is part of the holiday shopping season. Having a profitable Black Friday is essential for many retailers, especially toy and game stores. The holiday season amounts to almost 20% or more of annual sales for many retailers, according to the NRF.
Some retailers start their Black Friday sales on Thanksgiving Day, and deals typically run throughout the weekend. In 2019, shoppers spent an average of $361.90 from Thanksgiving through Cyber Monday (the first Monday after Thanksgiving).1 To put that into perspective, shoppers were expected to spend about $1,007 each during the entire holiday season in 2018.4 In 2020, shoppers plan to spend about $997.79 on gifts, decorations, food, and other purchases for themselves and their families.2
We gathered the past almost 20 years of holiday sales data. The average annual increase is 3.4%, thanks to the steep decline in 2008. Before the 2008 financial crisis, the average annual increase was 4.8% (between 2002 and 2007).