15 Black Friday Statistics That Will Have You Hitting the Shops
Updated · May 20, 2023
For more than half of the country, going shopping on Black Friday is as much a tradition as it is a form of entertainment. For some people, it can turn into a battle royale, with the prize being the best deals of the year.
Today, we invite you to read through our collection of Black Friday statistics as we debunk various myths and give you the latest numbers. Trust us—with the next shopping season just around the corner, you want to know everything we have to tell you.
Fabulous Black Friday Stats (Editor’s Choice)
- A third of people in the US are willing to get up early to get the best deals on Black Friday.
- The average person spent $301.27 on Black Friday purchases in 2021.
- 71% of shoppers spend $50+ when visiting physical stores, but only 54% do when shopping online.
- Brick-and-mortar stores saw a 90.4% decrease in 2021 Thanksgiving traffic compared to 2019; on Black Friday itself, traffic was down 28%.
- Online sales on Black Friday amounted to $8.9 billion in 2021.
- In 2021, 61% of unvaccinated people were willing to shop in person compared to just 51% of those vaccinated.
- Nearly 180 million people went shopping during the 2021 Black Friday holiday season.
- Half of the people in the US got shopping out of the way before Thanksgiving.
- 71% of Small Business Saturday shoppers specifically aim to support small businesses.
The History of Black Friday
Have you ever wondered why Black Friday is, well, “black”?
As it turns out, there have been both negative and positive connotations associated with the color in this sense throughout history, as there have also been with the holiday itself.
Let’s begin with some context.
1. The term “Black Friday” originally referred to September 24, 1869.
Many believe it’s called “Black Friday” because businesses make massive profits and go in the black. In reality, Black Friday’s history begins with two investors—Jay Gould and James Fisk—who attempted to corner the gold market in 1869 and eventually caused a market crash on September 24.
The term was resurrected post-WW2 when factory workers would falsely call in sick to avoid working on the day after Thanksgiving.
It wasn’t until the 1960s that the Philadelphia traffic police began employing the term to denote the horrible traffic caused by people going shopping.
Black Friday has had chiefly negative connotations throughout history. Now, let us add another layer. Do you know how many people die on Black Friday?
2. Since 2008, 17 people have met their demise on Black Friday.
(Source: Black Friday Death Count)
In 2008, a stampede of over 2,000 shoppers trampled a Walmart employee to death.
On the same day, two men shot each other to death in a Toys “R” Us store.
There was also that time in 2011 when a Black Friday shopper crumpled to the ground in Target, and people around him were simply too busy bargain-hunting to notice he was in distress.
All in all, at least 17 people have met their demise on Black Friday, and another 125 have suffered injuries, making it one of the deadliest holidays in the US.
Food for thought: Disneyland has reported no less than 13 deaths since it opened in 1955.
Black Friday Shoppers
We’d like to describe what the average shopper looks like. The trouble is that so many people hit the stores during the five-day long holiday weekend that it’s simply impossible to build a singular consumer profile.
Still, the stats in this section should serve as pointers.
3. Brick-and-mortar stores saw a 90.4% decrease in 2021 Thanksgiving traffic compared to 2019.
(Source: CNBC) (Source: NRF)
Black Friday statistics suggest that the foot traffic at brick-and-mortar stores has dropped substantially post-pandemic. Granted, many stores closed down in the pandemic and decided to make that change permanent, so that’s one critical factor.
Disregarding 2020 (for obvious reasons), 90.4% fewer people visited physical locations during the holiday compared to 2019. As for Black Friday traffic itself, it was reportedly down by 28%.
So, how many people shop on Black Friday post-COVID?
4. Around 180 million Americans shopped (either online or in person) during the Black Friday holiday season.
Reportedly, 179.8 million Americans went shopping during the Thanksgiving holiday weekend in 2021—which is by no means an insignificant figure (it’s more than half of the entire US population), but it’s also a marked fall from previous years.
In 2019, 189.6 million took advantage of holiday discounts. Even in the much-bedeviled 2020, 186.4 million did.
The latest Black Friday stats indicate that 66.5 million people took to the shops on the day itself, whereas 88 million browsed discounted items online.
Cyber Monday attracted 77 million online shoppers and just 20 million brick-and-mortar store goers (which makes sense since it’s all about online shopping, to begin with).
Please note that the same person can shop on multiple days through various platforms, which is why the sum is greater than 180 million.
5. More than 100 million shoppers took advantage of Small Business Saturday in 2021.
The best Black Friday deals are the ones that make you feel the happiest—and we believe you get those exact kinds of deals on Small Business Saturday.
As the name implies, it’s a day meant to encourage buying local and supporting your community. It’s also the second most popular shopping day for fans of physical stores—51 million shoppers supported local businesses online in 2021, whereas 56.4 million did so in person.
Fun fact: 71% of Americans who went shopping on Small Business Saturday said they did so with the clear aim of supporting small businesses. We’re proud of you.
6. The FBI processed 687,788 gun-related background checks during the Thanksgiving holiday weekend in 2021.
Black Friday gun sales routinely set records and often dominate leaderboards. In 2021, the FBI’s National Instant Criminal Background Check System (NICS) processed 187,585 background checks on Black Friday alone, which makes it the tenth busiest day in history for gun sales.
In reality, the number of guns sold is likely higher, as a single customer can buy multiple guns once checked.
Fun fact: There are several reasons why someone would want to perform a background check on a person—buying a gun is just one of them. You can run a background check to find out if someone has a criminal record or to verify if they have the credentials they say they have.
7. In 2021, 61% of unvaccinated Americans were willing to shop in person.
In 2020, Black Friday shopping happened mostly online. In 2021, many returned to the shops in person. And you might think the abundant access to vaccines contributed to this, but that doesn’t appear to be the case.
61% of unvaccinated people said they would do their shopping in person compared to just 51% of those vaccinated.
Strikingly, 6% of unvaccinated consumers said they would only shop in-store, whereas 10% would stick strictly to ecommerce. For comparison, respectively, only 4% and 16% of vaccinated shoppers said the same.
Black Friday Spending
Do you track how much you spend when shopping for the holidays?
If you do, pull out your notes and see how you stack up against your fellow shoppers. If you don’t, we at Web Tribunal will give you the averages, and you’ll give us your best guess as to how you compare.
8. People spent $8.9 billion online shopping on Black Friday.
Black Friday’s online sales in 2021 amounted to $8.9 billion. While that’s a very respectable number indeed, it’s not the highest it’s ever been. In 2020, people in the US spent over $9 billion online, so analysts expected up to $9.2 billion in e-sales in 2021. Alas, the results fell $300 million short.
Why did the numbers drop?
Well, we already talked about fewer people going out to shop in the past couple of years. Still, there’s also the fact that many retailers ran promotions as early as October—over a month in advance—which led to many consumers making their purchases sooner.
9. Cyber Monday saw $10.7 billion in online sales in 2021.
The NRF invented Cyber Monday in 2005 to push consumers to shop more online. Since then, it’s overtaken Black Friday itself in terms of total sales volume, though not by the number of shoppers.
In 2021, Americans dropped $10.7 billion on Cyber Monday—a slight decrease (1.4%) from 2020 when the figure stood at $10.8 billion. If we expand the scope of the statistic to include the entire Cyber Week period (Thanksgiving Day to Cyber Monday), then e-sales reached a total of $33.9 billion.
Fun fact: At peak time (11:00 PM - 12:00 AM ET / 8:00 PM - 9:00 PM PT), online shoppers spent a combined $12 million per minute!
10. The average person spent $301.27 on Black Friday purchases in 2021.
Extreme Black Friday discounts can easily convince people to spend a lot of money not only on items they were planning to buy but also on all sorts of gadgets that simply caught their eye while shopping.
Yet, people actually spent less money last year than they said they would. Preliminary surveys suggested the average shopper would part with as much as $430, but post-holiday season reports revealed that the average expenditure was actually $301.27.
This is lower than the 2020 figures. Believe it or not, even amidst a global pandemic, Americans forked out an average of $311.75.
11. Only 54% of customers spend $50 or more when shopping online.
(Source: Harvard Business Review)
Cyber Black Friday (the online version of Black Friday) is now bigger than its traditional counterpart if you look at the number of shoppers each attracts. Yet, that’s not necessarily all good news for retailers.
A recent study found that whereas 71% of customers spend $50 or more and 34% spend $100 or more when visiting a brick-and-mortar store, only 54% and 21%, respectively, do so when shopping online.
It does, of course, make perfect sense that people would be more willing to buy items they can see and touch for themselves. It’s harder to splurge when you don’t know what you’re getting.
12. A 65-inch television was Black Friday's fourth most popular item in 2021.
(Source: USA Today)
Black Friday’s TV sales are a staple at this point. We’ve seen it all—from people fighting over televisions to unfortunate shoppers dropping and breaking their massive flat-screen TVs they’ve just bought.
In 2021, the fourth most popular Black Friday item was a 65-inch television with a QLED screen and built-in Roku. The most popular ones?
First place goes to Airpods, followed by a hair dryer (and volumizer), leaving the iRobot vacuum in the third spot of the list.
Fun fact: Nowadays, more than 25% of the TVs people buy in the US run Roku, though not all use it. As of 2022, the service has “only” 61 million active subscribers.
Black Friday Trends
The pandemic turned our everyday lives upside down and changed our shopping habits.
Since 2020, many big-box retailers have decided to close down on Thanksgiving and open up later on Black Friday. Not to mention there has also been a noticeable shift to online deals instead of traditional doorbusters.
Let’s go over a couple more Black Friday stats regarding how people nowadays are tackling holiday shopping.
13. You can get the best deals on toys on Black Friday.
How much do prices drop on Black Friday?
Not as much as you may think. While there’s the occasional freak deal, discounts tend to be fairly modest. For example, computer prices were just 13.6% down, household appliances had 9% off the regular price, whereas other electronics were an average 11.77% cheaper.
According to Black Friday statistics, toys were an outlier, boasting discounts of up to 24.32%. That said, they remained about 20% down from regular until the end of the holiday season. So, you can skip the crowds next time—unless you’re early enough to get the best deals.
Fun fact: Televisions were 12.02% cheaper during Thanksgiving but got even cheaper before Christmas when prices were 14.87% lower on average.
14. A third of people in the US are willing to get up early to get the best deals on Black Friday.
You know what they say—the early bird catches the worm. Similarly, the best Black Friday deals tend to be short-lived and only available early on—while stocks last.
Apparently, 33% of American shoppers take the proverb to heart. They’re willing to get up as early as necessary to get the best deals, even if that means queueing up in front of a store at 5:00 AM.
All in all, 57% of the people like to get their shopping done during the morning, and only 9% are okay with hitting the shops at night and seeing what’s left.
15. Half of the shoppers did their shopping before Thanksgiving.
Black Friday sales last year didn’t quite live up to expectations, but pre-holiday sales did. 49% of shoppers say they started their holiday shopping well before Thanksgiving.
A major concern among consumers was the escalating global supply chain crisis, which meant many shipments could be delayed (spoiler: they were).
Note: Copycat ecommerce sites spike up during the holiday season, so be weary when you’re looking at an above-average Black Friday discount online. From October to December, there was a 178% spike in fraudulent e-stores.
There are two types of people in this world: those who hunt for the very best deals and brag about how much they bought for how little, and those who boast about spending ungodly amounts of money on things they don’t need.
We don’t judge either type.
Now that you’ve read through our Black Friday statistics, you probably know where you stand compared to other shopping enthusiasts.
At the end of the day, though, don’t forget it’s a holiday and not a competition—so before anything else, try to have fun this November!
A wayfarer by heart, Jordan fancies journeying into foreign lands with a camera in hand almost as much as he enjoys roving the online world. He spends his time poking at letters and pixels, trying to transmogrify them into something cool.