by Christopher Blomquist

Physical customer traffic in the US on Black Friday was down 28.3 percent this year compared to the last pre-pandemic year, 2019, but rose 47.5 percent compared to last year according to retail tracker Sensormatic Solutions.

While in-store shopping is still not back to 2019 levels, more shoppers felt comfortable visiting stores in person this Black Friday than in 2020,” said Brian Field, senior director of global retail consulting, Sensormatic Solutions. “One driver of this increased traffic could be ongoing supply chain challenges and shipping delays, which are resulting in consumers shopping earlier to ensure their gifts arrive on time. With ongoing staffing challenges due to the labor shortage, retailers can leverage data-driven solutions to ensure their stores are appropriately staffed and shelves are stocked during anticipated busy shopping days.”

Visits to physical stores on Thanksgiving Day decreased by 90.4 percent compared to 2019 as many retailers closed on Thanksgiving Day, like they did in 2020. The peak time for in-store Black Friday shopping was between 1-3 p.m., as it has been in years past.

“Retailers kicked off holiday deals early this year to spread traffic peaks out throughout the season, helping to avoid crowded stores on Black Friday, better track and plan inventory, and create an improved holiday shopping experience,” said Field.

Regarding the following day, so-called Small Business Saturday, more than one-third of Americans (34 percent) said they planned to support small local businesses that day according to a CNBC|Momentive Small Business Survey, which was an improvement from last year but still not at pre-pandemic levels.

Another just released study by Wells Fargo says that 74 percent of holiday shoppers are willing to spend more to support a small business this season. The reasons for supporting small businesses varied from helping the local community to finding more unique items and getting better customer service.

The study also revealed that if there’s no price difference to consider, younger shoppers would prefer to shop online versus in-store while older shoppers and the parents of older children prefer the in-person experience.

The National Retail Federation predicts that 158.3 million people will shop between Thanksgiving Day and Cyber Monday today.

Sensormatic Solutions expects that in-store traffic in the US for this year’s holiday season will drop between 10 percent and 15 percent compared to two years ago.