Retail stores were emptier than usual on Black Friday, as more than half the crowds who usually shop in person stayed home, according to a data tracker.
Sensormatic Solutions reported that US stores saw 52.1% less foot traffic than the same day in 2019. As infections from the Coronavirus pandemic rise around the world, some retailers kept their doors closed. Others reduced the number of shoppers who were allowed to be in store. Photos of malls around the country showed empty stores.
Brian Field, Sensormatic’s senior director of global retail consulting, said in a press release: “Due to COVID-19 and social distancing requirements, shoppers were more purposeful in their in-person Black Friday shopping, causing significantly less crowds than we’ve seen in the past.”
He said that this was compounded by retailers not offering as many “in-store doorbusters”, as well as the increasing adoption of e-commerce.
In-store traffic declined most on Thanksgiving Day, falling 94.9%. For the entire Thanksgiving week, in-store shopping fell 45.2%, according to the release.
Said Field: “Many well-known retailers elected to close on Thanksgiving this year to prevent crowds in stores and give their hard-working employees more time with their families. Additionally, with Black Friday deals being spread throughout the holiday season, the typical holiday traffic peaks are flattening, with more days sharing importance throughout the season.”
Video: Record online shopping sales this year amid COVID-19 pandemic (ABC News)
The Center for Disease Control and Prevention listed in-person shopping as a “higher risk” activity during the pandemic, and urged shoppers to switch to online buying. Adobe Analytics said online shopping grew 22% on Black Friday, the day after Thanksgiving, when retailers big and small roll out deals to jumpstart holiday sales, according to CNBC.
Taylor Schreiner, a director at Adobe Digital Insights, told CNBC: “New consoles, phones, smart devices and TVs that are traditional Black Friday purchases are sharing online shopping cart space this year with unorthodox Black Friday purchases such as groceries, clothes, and alcohol, that would previously have been purchased in-store.”
Even with the Coronavirus pandemic, Sensormatic expects holiday shopping to pick up in stores during December.
“As we approach Super Saturday, December 19, and corresponding shipping deadlines, we expect to see some of the in-store traffic that didn’t materialize on Black Friday appear as consumers wrap up their holiday shopping and make last-minute purchases,” said Field.