Black Friday Recap



Before the pandemic, Black Friday was considered the “superbowl of shopping.” Shoppers relaxed and enjoyed themselves during a wonderful Thanksgiving feast, usually followed by overwhelming drowsiness, urging shoppers to get rest in preparation for the next morning. By four in the morning, shoppers organize in packed crowds, ready to swarm malls across the country and get their hands on the best deals. 


Post-quarantine, shoppers were skeptical that Black Friday could reach the same level of excitement. Many seemed reluctant to resume in-person shopping with the convenience of online shopping and lingering caution, despite the emergence of vaccinations. However, the National Retail Federation president, Matthew Shay, suggested that Black Friday may be “bigger than we expected.” 


Shay’s prediction was in fact correct. This year’s grossing revenue from businesses all over the country set a new precedent. For in-person shoppers, attendance increased by “17 million people more than in 2021” while online shoppers brought in a revenue of “$9.12 billion” . These record breaking stats were crushing from a corporate and business perspective. But what about the consumers? 


Over Thanksgiving weekend, Black Friday became a trending topic on Twitter. Users made light of how retailers have inched away from having substantive sales greater than 50% off items; shopping on this day (in-person or online) and over the weekend felt like a waste of time to many. One tweet reported, “These are not the same Black Friday sales that were starting stampedes.” Another one said, “Anything less than 50% off is not a Black Friday deal….” More tweets from customers surrounding the topic of Black Friday expressed overall dissatisfaction with the sales presented by retailers over the weekend.


To gain a local perspective, I spoke with a senior at Harriton about her experience on Black Friday at the King of Prussia mall. She explained that she had a good time with her friends which made it “a lot less overwhelming”, however navigating the large crowds at stores such as Pacsun and Aerie could be difficult at times. Some would assume that because you went shopping in-person, there would be a difference in sales. Unfortunately, that was not the case. She expressed displeasure around the sales presented at the mall, saying they were “so janky” and “honestly not that good.” A few sales that she mentioned included a 50% off deal and a buy two, get one free, but sadly, there was not much success. 


So does consumer disappointment conflict with Black Friday’s statistical success? The number one rule in customer service and retail is: the customer is always right. After hearing and reading countless customers’ opinions on Black Friday, their opinions seem to negate the president of NRF’s statement about impressive sales this year. From the consumer’s perspective, Black Friday may have succeeded with a big turnout, but the inadequate sales presented turned some people away. 


While this year’s Black Friday had its successes and downfalls, the future of Black Friday is certainly up in the air. Whether long lines and chaotic crowds will prevail or online shopping will overshadow in-person shopping excitement remains to be seen.