Less Than a Quarter of Americans Plan to Shop in Stores on Black Friday

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It would have been hard not to notice that Black Friday sales promotions started earlier than ever this year. The bottom of the bowl of Halloween candy wasn’t even visible when retailers began advertising early Black Friday deals.

There are a couple of things at work here. First, consumers react positively to the words “sale” and “Black Friday” in the same sentence. The day after Thanksgiving has been the traditional kick-off to the holiday season for a long time now and as competition for consumer dollars has increased, shoppers have come to expect the best prices of the year on Black Friday.

Retailers have tried to take advantage of this mindset by pulling sales in earlier in an effort to maximize their chances to escape with a bigger share of shoppers’ budgets.

The net effect has been to lower anticipation among shoppers for Black Friday deals and to reduce the number of shoppers who hit the malls and stores. In fact, according to a new survey by Bankrate, just 23% of U.S. adults plan to shop in stores on Black Friday this year. That’s a drop of 5 percentage points since Bankrate last conducted the same survey two years ago.

The survey also indicates that more consumers — 26% — plan to shop online this Black Friday than plan to visit stores. But the in-store shoppers are expected to spend about 79% of the day’s dollars.

An executive at retail consulting firm RetailNext told Bankrate:

Two years ago, Black Friday was one day. Last year it was a weeklong event. This year it’s been a month-long event. A lot of Black Friday deals are already out there. They’ve been out there since the beginning of the month.

RetailNext believes that this Black Friday will not be the biggest shopping day of the year in terms of either traffic or sales.

The good news for retailers is that Black Friday sales are projected to rise by 2.6% year over year and overall holiday season sales are projected to rise by 4.7%.

More data points and other information is available at the Bankrate website.

Bankrate’s Money Pulse survey was conducted Nov. 3-6, 2016, by Princeton Survey Research Associates International with a nationally representative sample of 1,000 adults living in the continental U.S. Telephone interviews were conducted in English and Spanish by landline (500) and cellphone (500, including 304 without a landline phone). Statistical results are weighted to correct known demographic discrepancies. The margin of sampling error is plus or minus 3.8 percentage points for the complete set of data.