Traffic both in-store and online on Black Friday was subdued due to fewer doorbusters on the day and earlier holiday shopping in a season being increasingly dictated by supply chain challenges.

On the positive side, in-store traffic saw a strong recovery vs. last year when the event was constrained by limits on occupancy and even fewer in-store doorbusters. In-store traffic at U.S. brick-and-mortar retail stores in 2022 jumped 47.5 percent year-over-year, according to Sensormatic.

Traffic on Friday, however, was down 28.3 percent compared to 2019, the last pre-pandemic year. Sensormatic attributed the decline to holiday purchases that started for many consumers back in October.

Brian Field, senior director of global retail consulting, Sensormatic Solutions, said in a statement, “Retailers kicked off holiday deals early this year to spread traffic peaks out throughout the season, helping to avoid crowded stores on Black Friday, better track and plan inventory, and create an improved holiday shopping experience.”

Concerns over out-of-stocks and potential shipping delays also spurred earlier purchases by consumers.

Online spending on Black Friday failed to increase year-over-year for the first time since Adobe Analytics began tracking the figure in 2012, reaching only the low end of Adobe’s predicted range.

Vivek Pandya, lead analyst, Adobe Digital Insights, said, “Shoppers are being strategic in their gift shopping, buying much earlier in the season and being flexible about when they shop to make sure they get the best deals.”

Retailers are motivated to avoid promotions as tight inventories and higher costs for raw materials, freight and labor are already expected to lead to lower fourth-quarter profit margins for many. Investment bank Cowen determined Black Friday had the lowest level of clearance goods in five years or more.

Forrester Research analyst Sucharita Kodali told Reuters, “Even though the holiday season should be okay from a sales standpoint — because retailers are discounting less — the margins won’t necessarily be higher because of inflation.”


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