Black Friday 2021? Pandemic Still Slowing Holiday Sales

Black Friday? It wasn’t as busy as retailers might have hoped for this year, according to research from Sensormatic Solutions.

According to Sensormatic, visits to physical stores on Black Friday this year — the day after Thanksgiving — were down 28.3 percent when compared to 2019 levels. That’s an important comparison: Black Friday of 2019 was the last one before the COVID-19 pandemic became headline news.

In good news, though, Black Friday visits by shoppers this year were up a solid 47.5 percent when compared to 2020.

Sensormatic reported that shoppers might be more likely to visit stores in person this year because of the supply chain challenges that continue to hit the country.

“More shoppers felt comfortable visiting stores in person this Black Friday than in 2020,” said Brian Field, senior director of global retail consulting with Sensormatic Solutions, in a written statement. “One driver of this increased traffic could be ongoing supply chain challenges and shipping delays, which are resulting in consumers shopping earlier to ensure their gifts arrive on time.”

The rest of the 2021 holiday shopping season might be a strong one for physical retailers.

According to Sensormatic Solutions’ 2021 Holiday Consumer Sentiment Survey, 65 percent of U.S. consumers say they plan to shop in-store this holiday season for product-related reasons, like browsing for gift ideas or to see or touch products before buying.

Sensormatic Solutions predicts that the 10 busiest U.S. shopping days in 2021 will account for 40 percent of all holiday traffic. U.S. in-store traffic for this year’s holiday season is also expected to be down between 10% and 15% compared to 2019.