Summary List PlacementThe overall number of Black Friday shoppers was slightly down this year, but the holiday might not be dead just yet.
Three million fewer consumers shopped over Thanksgiving weekend this year, but a still-significant 186 million still made purchases, an increase over 2018.
“Black Friday is always counted out and comes back” National Retail Federation (NRF) President and CEO Matthew Shay said on a call with reporters on Tuesday. A reporter asked if this year’s downturn might finally kill Black Friday, echoing the common take that all the unusual features of this year were the final blow to the shopping holiday. Some even said it was already dead.
Black Friday has “evolved over the last decade into a social day,” Shay said. Socializing is difficult this year, with masks and social distancing measures to prevent the spread of coronavirus, but “I wouldn’t be surprised if Black Friday next year was the biggest in history,” as people have a pent up demand to go out. 
Overall sales were also down more significantly from last year at 19%, according to a JP Morgan study that looked at Chase cardholders. NRF found that average spending among consumers was $312, down about $50 from last year.
Shay explained lower sales numbers by pointing out that holiday promotions started earlier than ever this year, and 52% of consumers told NRF that they’d already taken advantage of some earlier holiday sales. Overall holiday spending might not be down but rather spread across more days as retailers turned Black Friday into a months-long online event. 
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As expected, consumers continued to turn to e-commerce as more retailers brought deals online and limited store occupancy. For the first time, more than 100 million people shopped online on Black Friday, and the percentage of consumers who only shopped online over the weekend increased 44% over last year. Nearly 96 million consumers shopped exclusively online during Thanksgiving weekend, NRF found. 
Despite the extended shopping season, holiday spending isn’t nearly done. More than 90% of respondents told NRF that they’d be looking at sales and promotions for the rest of the season. Just over half of consumers are said that they are more interested in holiday decor and seasonal items this year, and 55% said that they don’t expect COVID-19 to impact their holiday spending. 
As Shay put it, if Black Friday can survive a year like this one, it might be on pace to thrive next year. SEE ALSO: EBay is telling scammers to stop selling photos of the PlayStation 5 for hundreds of dollars
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