Black Friday, the traditional start of the holiday shopping season, saw a modest increase in U.S. retail sales this year, as consumers took advantage of early promotions and online deals. According to Mastercard SpendingPulse™, which measures in-store and online retail sales across all forms of payment, U.S. retail sales on Friday, 24th November were up +2.5% year-over-year excluding automotive, not adjusted for inflation.
E-commerce sales remained strong, increasing +8.5% year-over-year, as consumers shopped from the comfort of their homes or on their mobile devices. Some shoppers may have also opted to avoid crowds and watch sporting events that aired on Friday, such as the college football rivalry games. In-store sales increased +1.1% year-over-year, reflecting the continued recovery of brick-and-mortar retail from the pandemic.
Steve Sadove, senior advisor for Mastercard and former CEO and Chairman of Saks Incorporated, said that consumers are “navigating the holiday season well and taking advantage of holiday promotions, giving them ample choice as they hunt for gifts for everyone on their list.” He added that consumers are also “shopping smarter, using all of their tools – from searching across channels to cross checking on apps and websites – to maximise value while they spend time with friends and family.”
While experiential gifts have been the popular choice in the past few years, consumers seem to prefer tangible gifts this year, with Jewellery and Apparel being the top gift sectors of the day.
In addition to shopping, consumers also enjoyed festive feasting with their loved ones, as the Restaurant sector continued its growth streak, increasing +6.3% year-over-year. This suggests that consumers are feeling more confident and comfortable to dine out amid the ongoing vaccination efforts and health protocols.
Black Friday retail sales build on-top of the double-digit growth experienced in 2022, when consumers were eager to shop after the lockdowns and restrictions. This year, retailers once again started their Black Friday sales early in the month, giving consumers more time to search for the best deals and avoid last-minute stress.
Mastercard SpendingPulse™ reports on national retail sales across all payment types in select markets around the world. The findings are based on aggregate sales activity in the Mastercard payments network, coupled with survey-based estimates for certain other payment forms, such as cash and check.