Donald W. Reynolds National Center For Business Journalism

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Jumpstart your Black Friday reporting: 10 fast facts

November 2, 2016

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Black Friday's numbers are full of story possibilities. (US-Economy-Black Friday image by "Diariocritico de Venezuela" via flickr, CC BY 2.0)
Black Friday's changing numbers are full of story possibilities. (US-Economy-Black Friday image by "Diariocritico de Venezuela" via flickr, CC BY 2.0)

Black Friday is traditionally the busiest shopping day of the year, the official start of the holiday shopping season and a rich source of stories for business journalists. Here are 10 fast statistics that can help jumpstart your day-after-Thanksgiving reporting.

1. According to the National Retail Federation, 110.2 million people shopped on Black Friday in 2015, either online or in brick-and-mortar stores. That represents about 35 percent of all Americans.

2. Shoppers spent a total of $13.14 billion dollars on Black Friday in 2015. That works out to $118 for every shopper.

3. Last year online shoppers spent a record $2.74 billion, an increase of 14.3 percent over the day’s digital sales for 2014, reports

4. A lot of those sales were made with thumbs. In a Business Wire story, one-third of 2015’s purchases were made from a mobile phone. This number represents a 70 percent increase from the corresponding 2014 number. Shoppers who did their purchasing on a tablet declined by 2 percent.

5. However, Black Friday sales dropped in brick-and-mortar stores. The $10.4 billion spent in physical stores was more than a $1 billion drop from 2014.

6. Guys spent big on Black Friday. Only 28 percent of woman spent between $250 and $500 on Black Friday last year, as opposed to 32 percent of men.

7. Maybe that’s because women know the deals aren’t that great. According to Time, last year’s average discount on 6,000 tracked items was less than 5 percent.

8. Credit cards are up, but cash (or debit) is still king. Last year 38 percent of Black Friday shoppers made their purchases with credit cards—the highest level ever recorded—up from 28.5 percent in 2014.

9. Up to 70 percent of consumers believe that Black Friday is useless because there will be more sales throughout the holiday season.

10. And then there’s the fear factor. The U.S. Department of Labor has issued safety guidelines for retailers, in an attempt to curb the kind of violence and “work-related hazards” that have accompanied Black Friday in recent years. Buyer beware.

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