Thanksgiving Day & Black Friday Results Are In! Physical Stores Saw Less Traffic, But Higher Sales Per Shopper | RetailNext

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Thanksgiving Day & Black Friday Results Are In! Physical Stores Saw Less Traffic, But Higher Sales Per Shopper

Shelley E. Kohan
Shelley E. Kohan
Vice President of Retail Consulting

On Thanksgiving Day, traffic was up nearly 21% for physical stores and up 27% overall

This Thanksgiving weekend 2013, brick-and-mortar stores faced more competition than ever and six fewer shopping days this season – but did openings on Thanksgiving Day compensate enough?

According to the National Retail Federation, 141 million unique shoppers have already or will have shopped by the end of the big Thanksgiving weekend, up from 139 million last year. The NRF survey also found that traffic on Thanksgiving Day grew 27% as nearly 45 million shoppers took advantage of special savings offers, up from 35 million in 2012.

RetailNext conducted its own study which analyzed more than 2.7 million shopping trips across 430+ stores throughout the U.S. from various format retailers (specialty, larger format, general merchandise). Here are the findings!

BLACK FRIDAY (11/29/13)

RetailNext found that Black Friday traffic was down 5.8%, but brick-and-mortar retailers were able to make up for potential sales lost with stronger performance in both conversion (up 3.2%) and items per transaction (up 9.8%). This resulted in a slight uptick in sales of .8% and an increase of sales per shopper of 7.7%.

Black Friday Snapshot (YOY)

2013 Traffic & Sales Peak Times

According to my colleague, Chitra Balasubramanian, VP of Insights at RetailNext, “Despite the fact that the top traffic hour was 3-4pm and top sales hour was 12-1pm, the hard-core shoppers who arrived early were the ones who spent the most on a per shopper basis and who converted at the highest rate.” Interestingly, shoppers who showed up early (likely to nab better deals) bought more items, as evidenced by 18.6% higher IPT during these early hours, which is significantly higher than those shopping at other times.

NOTE: Returns were up 33.4% on Black Friday compared to 2012, which may be a result of more stores opening on Thanksgiving and perhaps shoppers returning the next day for an exchange or refund.


On Thanksgiving Day, traffic was up nearly 21% and is likely the result of more retailers actually being open on Thanksgiving Day. Therefore, there was a larger shopper base in the market on Thanksgiving Day compared to the previous year. Additionally, retailers extended the open hours longer this year. Both average transaction value and items per transactions were up significantly year-over-year resulting in a strong sales performance for Thanksgiving Day.

Thanksgiving Day Snapshot (YOY)

2013 Traffic & Sales Peak Times

Many stores had a later store opening time on Thanksgiving Day this year, which is evident in the top traffic hours found to be trending later in the day. The top traffic hours appear to be post-Thanksgiving dinner time (6-7 pm and 8-9 pm).

WEDNESDAY before Thanksgiving (11/27/13)

Although declines in traffic (3.1%) and conversion were seen on Wednesday, a stronger performance in average transaction value and items per transaction led to a promising start to the Thanksgiving weekend. Conversion was down (.2%), but the sales per shopper were up 8.7%.

Wednesday Snapshot (YOY)

2013 Traffic

On the Wednesday before Thanksgiving, 33.9% of traffic was in stores 2pm-5pm. Traffic began to decline at 8pm with an even sharper decline at 9pm.

In a recent article published on titled, Holiday Weekend Sales Dip on Discounts; E-commerce Jumps, The National Retail Federation said total spending was expected to reach $57.4 billion for the four-day period – which includes Black Friday, the biggest shopping day of the year – down 2.8 percent from $59.1 billion over the same weekend in 2012.” Reuters noted RetailNext’s findings in the article noting, “overall shopper traffic between Wednesday and Friday fell 5.2 percent and that customers went to fewer different stores, doing more online research beforehand.”

But shoppers spent more money in the stores they did go to and that a website good enough to make shoppers want to visit a store is more crucial now than ever. Shoppers have more options.

Stay tuned for complete Thanksgiving weekend results!