How Much Do Americans Spend On Black Friday?

As the holiday shopping season creeps earlier and earlier into fall, it's no wonder that Americans are spending record-breaking amounts on their total holiday shopping. Instead of shopping for just a few weeks, many consumers are spending close to three months finding all of their holiday gifts. While earlier sales are a contributing factor to these record-breaking spending totals, it's impossible to talk about holiday shopping without thinking of Black Friday.

A big factor in this extension of the holiday shopping season is the increasing popularity of retail sales before and around the Thanksgiving holiday. Plus, while once there was only a singular Black Friday shopping event, retailers have increasingly started their sales earlier and/or spread out their special holiday pricing over numerous days. The Thanksgiving holiday shopping time frame now generally includes Thanksgiving, Black Friday, Small Business Saturday, and Cyber Monday.

This means that while Black Friday once only referred to the Friday after Thanksgiving, the term now often encompasses a full five-day holiday period beginning Thanksgiving Day and ending on Cyber Monday. This means even more shopping opportunities for U.S. consumers. According to the National Retail Federation, a record-breaking 200.4 million Americans shopped in physical stores and through online outlets during this five-day shopping period in 2023. This not only beat out 2022 numbers (196.7 million people), but it also exceeded industry expectations. The National Retail Federation had only predicted a Black Friday holiday shopper total of around 182 million.

When, exactly, are people shopping?

When exactly consumers decide to participate in Thanksgiving weekend holiday shopping largely depends on their shopping method. For consumers who prefer in-person shopping, Black Friday still proves to be the most popular choice with 76.2 million shoppers visiting physical stores in person in 2023. Small Business Saturday, however, experienced something of a dip in shopping numbers in 2023, with roughly 59 million consumers shopping in person compared to 63.4 million in 2022.

You might also find it surprising to learn that those who prefer to shop online were also more likely to shop on Black Friday. While you might expect that Cyber Monday would be the preferred day for online shoppers, 2023's Cyber Monday consumer total was 17.6 million less than the total for Black Friday: 73 million shoppers versus 90.6 million, respectively. Interestingly, 2023 also saw a drop in overall Cyber Monday shoppers when compared to the estimated 77 million shoppers in 2022. Yet, while there might have been fewer shoppers, sales totals continued to rise. According to an Adobe Analytics report, Cyber Monday grew 9.6% in 2023 with $12.4 billion in sales.

It's also important to realize just how many shoppers in the United States are starting early. By the Thanksgiving weekend, 85% of consumers reported they had already started their holiday shopping. In fact, 48% of consumers reported they were already halfway through their holiday shopping list. This has increasingly pushed retailers to begin their holiday sales even earlier than Thanksgiving weekend, with some as early as October.

How much are people spending?

Further, a whopping 95% of the purchases made during the Thanksgiving holiday weekend were specifically holiday-related. While the average amount consumers spent on their weekend shopping purchases was $321.41, the amount that was specifically spent on gifts was only about 70% of that total ($226.55). This means that a fair amount of holiday weekend shopping effort actually goes toward other holiday-related needs like decorations, home goods, and holiday items.

According to online user data from Adobe Business, total online consumer spending for the entire holiday season (which it's categorized as November 1 through December 31) reached 222.1 billion. Of this total, Cyber Monday was the highest single-day spending total for online purchases with 12.4 billion in sales. In fact, consumers spent $15.7 million every minute during Cyber Monday in 2023. The top categories for Cyber Monday were clothing/apparel (with a 166% increase in demand), toys, electronics, and jewelry. The next largest single-day total for online consumer spending was Black Friday, with $9.8 billion.

Another interesting consideration when it comes to the growth of consumer spending is just how many people are using buy now, pay later apps and features to defer their increased spending. During the 2023 holiday season, $16.6 billion in purchases used BNPL services in order to pay off holiday spending in the new year. While this can be a helpful tool short-term, using buy now, pay later can ultimately be a slippery slope into debt, especially if you get swept up into the excitement of the holiday shopping season.