What Is Black Friday? Sales and Trends

How Much Do Americans Spend on Black Friday?

Santa shopping online on Black Friday
••• So many holiday shoppers go online instead of visiting stores on Black Friday. Photo: Vstock LLC/Getty Images

Black Friday is November 24, 2017, the day after Thanksgiving. It's traditionally the busiest shopping day of the year because it kicks off the holiday season. This season is crucial for the economy because around 30 percent of annual retail sales occur between Black Friday and Christmas. For some retailers, such as jewelers, it's even higher -- almost 40 percent.

Black Friday Sales Statistics

Black Friday is still the busiest shopping day for stores.

In 2016, there were 101.7 million people who braved the crowds. That's more than the 74 million in 2015. The next biggest day was Saturday, when 64 million people went to stores. Only 33 million shopped on Sunday. The  fewest, 29 million, left their homes on Thanksgiving Day

In 2017, the number of people visiting stores on Black Friday and Thanksgiving fell 4 percent from 2016. RetailNext Inc. analyzed instore videos to count the shoppers. At the same time, online sales rose 18 percent, according to Adobe Systems Inc. Sales hit a record of $7.9 billion. Forty percent of these purchases were done from mobile phones. Market research firm Criteo said that's a 29 percent increase over last year.

In total, 137 million people went to stores over the four-day Black Friday weekend. That's a third more than the 102 million in 2015. 

Holiday Season Sales Statistics

Black Friday is part of the holiday shopping season.

That includes November and December, according to the National Retail Federation. Here are the past 15 years of retail sales data. The average annual increase is 2.5 percent, thanks to the steep 4.6 percent decline in 2008. Before the 2008 financial crisis, the 10-year average annual increase was 3.5 percent.

Year  Spent per Shopper  Total Spent   Percent Increase 
2002  N.A.  $416.4 billion   2.1%
2003  N.A.  $437.6 billion   5.1%
2004  N.A.  $467.2 billion   6.8%
2005  $734.69  $496.2 billion      6.2%
2006  $750.70  $512.6 billion   3.2%
2007  $755.13  $525.9 billion   2.7%
2008  $694.19  $501.7 billion  -4.6%
2009  $681.83  $503.2 billion   0.2%
2010  $718.98  $529.4 billion   5.2%
2011  $740.57  $553.8 billion   4.6%
2012  $752.24  $568.7 billion   2.6%
2013  $767.24  $584.1 billion   2.9%
2014  $802.45  $608.0 billion   5.0%
2015  $805.65  $626.1 billion   3.2%
2016   $935.58  $655.8 billion   3.6%
2017 (est.)  $967.13  $682.0 billion   4.0%


The NRF usually overestimates sales. In 2015, it predicted $630.5 billion, but only $626.1 billion was sold. For that reason, it's likely that 2017 sales will increase less than the forecast. 

Black Friday Hiring

The NRF survey reported that stores would hire between 500,000 and 550,000 seasonal workers in 2017. That's fewer than the record 764,750 workers hired in 2013. At least it's not as bad as the 263,820 workers hired in 2008. 

Black Friday Sales and Deals

The best Black Friday deals are, surprisingly, not on Black Friday. Many retailers, including Amazon, offer deals earlier and earlier, upstaging Black Friday itself.

The competition this year is so fierce, stores are innovating new ways to get your dollar. 

Research reveals that the most deals for electronics are offered at the beginning of November. The best day for Christmas decor is November 22. Discounts are 23 percent on average. The best day to buy toys is the day before Thanksgiving. 

The number of deals hit their peak the week before Thanksgiving. The average in-store discount is 20 percent for the entire week. That discount increases to 37 percent on Thanksgiving, Black Friday, and Saturday. 

Online sales are the best on Thanksgiving Day, not Black Friday. The average discount is 24 percent. It's the best day to find online discounts for sporting goods, computers, apparel, and video games. 

But Black Friday itself is the best day for online deals on TVs, tablets, appliances, and jewelry.

  The days from Thanksgiving through Cyber Monday capture 20 percent of all holiday online shopping. Use these statistics to get the best Black Friday deals. In addition, don't forget deals offered on Green Monday. It's the last day to shop online and be sure your package arrives before Christmas. 

Shift to Online

Stores like Best Buy and Wal-Mart are trying to get Black Friday shoppers into their stores. Although shoppers will never completely abandon brick-and-mortar stores, they expect retailers to offer a convenient online alternative. To compete with Amazon, Best Buy offered some of the most popular items in their stores exclusively. Wal-Mart stocked DVDs, pajamas and other items customers prefer to pick up in stores. Still, more than 75 percent of the most popular toys were bought on walmart.com.

Most stores must all their skills to convince shoppers to get dressed, get in their cars and drive to pick up merchandise. As a result, retailers are less likely to build new stores. That hurts commercial real estate, neighborhood shopping centers, and jobs. 

Holiday In Depth

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