Black Friday turned into a smashing success for retailers with a reported $9.12 billion according to Adobe. Despite the heavy emphasis towards online shopping this year, in-store traffic saw a significant jump. Loosening pandemic restrictions gave retailers more options this year and they attempted to balance past surges of ecommerce with the desire to return to more traditional shopping methods. The two factors threatening this season were inflation and the supply chain. Early returns show that retailers did enough to shore up these two problems and convince consumers to engage in the biggest sale of the year.

In-store traffic took a nosedive when the pandemic hit and it was possible that it would not recover. Early returns show that in-store traffic was up 2.9%, based on data from Sensormatic Solutions, this year compared to last, a good sign even if we are still distant from pre-pandemic levels. A common sight of pre-pandemic Black Friday was consumers camping outside of stores on Thanksgiving in comically long lines waiting for deals. Those days appear to be a thing of the past and retailers have found a greater tactic to meet consumers’ needs. Early deals started all the way back in October of this year and these extended discounts have reduced the operational load on the Friday following Thanksgiving. Conversely, the abundance of shopping options have served to spread out the financial impact of the shopping holiday and perhaps made it seem less impressive.

Ecommerce has saved many retailers over the past two years, and it continued to be a driving force in 2022. Many Black Friday deals, like those at Walmart, debuted before Friday as online deals and some businesses, like Amazon, released their promotions online during Thanksgiving. Most retailers remained closed on Thanksgiving and their online discounts allowed them to cater to consumers without the difficulty of operating on a holiday. Early digital offers also helped drive ecommerce traffic and reduced the stress of limited store inventory. There is also Cyber Monday to consider, which raked in a record $11.3 billion, against $10.7 billion last year, according to Adobe.

The early debut of holiday pricing appears to have stemmed the tide against inventory shortages from previous years. The larger issue was inflation that has dragged retailers down all year. Based on the preliminary sales numbers from the shopping weekend, it appears that retailers were able to overcome this challenge. Shops offered sharp discounts this year and consumers that had been conserving funds due to inflation took advantage. The increased inventory is also an important factor as retailers were able to keep up with demand and in some cases found themselves with too much surplus. Electronics were the big winner again this year with TV’s, computers, and accessories seeing some of the largest price drops. Toys were also a major focus of Black Friday deals this year. Many of these products benefited from markdowns that brought in consumers unwilling to pay the inflated prices.

This year’s Black Friday was a triumph and retailers made the right calls to avoid what could have been a major disappointment. Projections were high for November earlier this year, yet as we drew closer, expectations became tepid due to inflation. Inflation will continue to be a challenge going forward, although this shopping season proves that there are ways around it and consumers are still willing to spend when the situation warrants it. Black Friday and Cyber Monday are in the books; however, there are still several more important shopping holidays in the lead up to Christmas. Expect a few more surprising deals as retailers push towards the end of the year to meet their goals.