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Black Friday: How did retailers fare in 2017?

Paul Tiedt | Dec 1, 2017 Paul Tiedt 12/01/17

Another Thanksgiving has come and gone, complete with the familiar traditions of family meals and adrenaline-fueled shopping trips. In keeping with our own tradition of analyzing Black Friday shopping trends, we turned to our market intelligence tool BrandGeek®—the fastest, most accurate source of behavioral data linked to customer feedback in real time. While last year’s data provided perspective on declining visits and shifts in trip motivation, we were eager to get another real-time look at how consumer behavior plays out during this critical period for retailers.

Here’s what we saw this year. (Note: If you’re interested in seeing how your brand’s Black Friday results compared to named competitors, reach out to us.)

Visits continue to dip

BrandGeek offers a unique look at longitudinal shopping patterns. With proprietary visit-detection technology, we’re able to assess consumer behavior of shoppers who were active during Black Friday weekend over the last three years.

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From 2015 to 2016, we saw these consumers made 4% fewer visits—and then from 2016 to 2017, we saw a further decline of 5% fewer visits to stores during the Black Friday weekend. However, those who did shop in 2017 made more stops compared to 2016. Simply stated, Black Friday 2017 saw fewer total visits, but those who did make a visit made a higher number of visits per person.

With the rise of online shopping, this trend isn’t surprising. But it does speak to the importance of merging in-store and online behaviors—because customers are increasingly using both channels during the same purchase cycle. In fact, a recent Harvard Business Review study showed 73% of customers use multiple channels in their shopping journey.

The in-store experience did little to build loyalty

Beyond behavior, BrandGeek is also able to tell us what consumers thought about their experiences. Unfortunately for retailers, the in-store experience on Black Friday 2017 didn’t do anything to build loyalty. Satisfaction metrics were down across the board in the mass merchant and apparel retail categories, while scores held steady in the department store category.

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Still, consumers continue to be motivated to visit retailers based on a previous positive experience, which magnifies the importance of delivering great experiences throughout the year to drive people to your stores during the Black Friday weekend.

Consumers are living by their lists

Regardless of the category, we saw shoppers purchased exactly what they intended—rather than getting what they wanted and then picking up a few additional items which they were more inclined to do last year.

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This shows Black Friday shopping has become more mission-based, and consumers aren’t as likely to participate if they’re casual shoppers without a specific item in mind. Going along with that, consumers are becoming increasingly less likely to identify and purchase items not on their list when they shop.

The Black Friday bottom line

Even with lower foot traffic this year, Black Friday continues to be an important shopping weekend. And while customer satisfaction is lower this year compared to last year, it continues to be a big motivator to get people to your stores. That means you can’t let your focus on the customer experience slip—even if it is the busiest time of the year. Make sure you’re properly prepping your teams so they’re set up to deliver the kind of loyalty-inspiring experience that keeps customers coming back.

To learn how BrandGeek turns visit-detected surveys into consumer insights brands can’t get anywhere else, check out our video.

Paul Tiedt
VP, Client Insights