Black Friday saw empty stores and fewer shoppers, signaling the death of the shopping bonanza as we know it
Business Insider/Jessica Tyler
- Black Friday 2018 saw foot traffic fall by 1.7% compared to last year.
- The decline in shoppers actually visiting stores reveals the rise of online shopping and highlights the fact that Black Friday sales are kicking off earlier than ever.
- Black Friday photos from around the country reveal empty stores, solo shoppers, and parking lots that were far from full.
If your local shopping mall felt a bit empty this Black Friday, you weren't imagining things.
Foot traffic fell 1.7% on Black Friday, according to retail analytics brand ShopperTrak. Combined visits for Thanksgiving Day and Black Friday were down 1%.
While a decline of 1.7% isn't a huge drop, it reveals two things.
First, with overall sales figures up, people are doing more of their shopping online. Online sales reached $6.22 billion on Black Friday, an increase of 23.6% compared to 2017, according to Adobe Analytics data.
Meanwhile, the decline of people shopping in stores on Black Friday continues a slight but steady decline for the day, once renowned for its hectic (and sometimes violent) crowds of deals-crazed shoppers. Last year, the number of people visiting stores on Black Friday declined 4.5%, according to RetailNext.
"Ultimately, consumers really want convenience and they want to get their item and get out of the store quickly. They don't want to wait in long lines, they don't want to wait for a store to open anymore," Josh Elman, senior specialist at Nasdaq Advisory Services, told Business Insider last October.
Secondly, with Thanksgiving Day traffic falling less than Black Friday foot traffic, people are shopping earlier.
"Early online promotions and Thanksgiving Day store openings likely cannibalized Black Friday shopper visits," Morgan Stanley analyst Kimberly C. Greenberger said in a note on Monday.
Walmart was still overloaded with shoppers when Black Friday sales kicked off on Thanksgiving Day. But, many retailers' Thanksgiving Day kickoff could have contributed to a decline in actual Black Friday foot traffic - especially as most online Black Friday sales also started on Thursday.
The decline in foot traffic, while slight, was clear to many shoppers in stores around the country.
Here are photos that prove Black Friday isn't what it used to be:
Business Insider's Jessica Tyler visited a Target and Best Buy in Westchester, New York, on Black Friday and was amazed by how empty the stores were.
At around 9 a.m., Target was almost empty.
If anything, Tyler said that Target was less crowded than it was on an average day of shopping.
Best Buy was similarly low on shoppers, with a nearly empty parking lot around 8 a.m.
Arrows on the floor to coral customers seemed pretty unnecessary.
According to Tyler, there were less than 10 people waiting to check out, and five or six registers were open.
Other people around the country expressed shock on social media at surprisingly empty stores on Black Friday.
Far-from-full parking lots were a common sight.
Indian Mound Mall was so empty on the morning of Black Friday that one person joked "a tumbleweed just rolled by."
And, an empty lot can signal a drop in foot traffic that is clear even without entering stores.
"Proof that traditional line’em up #BlackFriday is dead. Where are all the people?" NPD analyst Stephen Baker tweeted.
Not every store was empty on Black Friday.
But, the data shows that the empty stores weren't a fluke. As customers increasingly shop online, Black Friday is no longer the crowded shopping day it used to be.
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