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Black Friday Statistics and Tips for Retailers


Black Friday has registered mostly impressive sales figures since 1932, when the day following Thanksgiving was first considered the beginning of the Christmas shopping season. For the 2016 event on November 25, business experts forecast strong consumer performance, building on what took place on Black Friday in 2015. According to Adobe, last year's event resulted in massive sales:

  • $2.72 billion in sales on Black Friday (14 percent higher than 2014)
  • $1.73 billion on Thanksgiving Day (a jump of 25 percent year-over-year):
  • More than 20 percent of sales generated by smartphones (an increase of 70 percent over 2014)
  • Most mobile sales came from iPhones and iPads (67 and 84 percent respectively)
  • Mobile devices in general drove $583 million in sales
  • Biggest-selling electronics products included Samsung 4K TVs, Apple IPad Air 2, Microsoft Xbox One, Apple iPad Mini and Sony PS4
  • Bestselling toys included Lego Dimensions, Shopkin dolls, Lego Star Wars, Barbie Dream Houses and Lego Friends

It's important to remember that Black Friday is not just about large retailers. Your small business can get involved in the event too. If you haven't yet put together plans for the big day, now's the time to get started. Keep these tips in mind:

Prepare Your Website

You can't afford to lose out on potentially record-breaking online sales because parts of your small business website aren't operating at full capacity. Make a complete assessment a top priority, testing every webpage for load times, seeking out any broken lines, and ensuring customers can easily use shopping cart functions. After all, there's nothing to be gained by attracting customers and guiding them through the buying experience if they encounter glitches at precisely the moment they wish to purchase your product or service.

Do a "Mobile-Ready" Test Run

For the ever-increasing number of mobile shoppers, make sure the buying experience is thoroughly user-friendly. Avoid the impulse to add images that slow loading time, evaluate the mobile check-out process from beginning to end, and keep required customer information to an absolute minimum. Ideally, you want your customers to load their shopping carts, provide payment information, and check out just by employing their username and password.

Don't Complicate the Sales Process

Things are always chaotic on Black Friday, so the best retail strategy is to keep things as simple as possible. Trying to highlight different product sales at different times of the day can spell trouble for your front-line staff trying to remember up-to-date sales information and those ringing up the sales. Too many moving parts may threaten to disrupt business operations at a critically important time.

Set the Right Tone with Your Advertising

Everyone's seen the fear-inducing TV news footage of crowds looking wildly out of control and wreaking havoc on retailers wholly unprepared for the onslaught. Yes, you want to maximize sales on this major retail holiday, but you also want many of these customers to come back throughout the year. They may not do so if their memories include being knocked to the floor and nearly trampled by other shoppers.

Tiffany Marshall at Bindo POS suggests avoiding ad phrases like "door-buster" and "first 100 customers" when advertising for Black Friday. Such wording gets people's competitive juices flowing—and maybe not in a good way. "When crowds of people become rivals, fights and stampedes happen," Marshall notes. "Choose language that dissuades hostility instead of inciting it."

Consider Your Staffing Situation

If you anticipate needing additional staff, now's a good time to review your hiring and training processes. Look for qualified temporary workers who can provide reliable sales and customer support and assist in other back-end operations. On the big day itself, put your most talented, customer-friendly employees on the sales floor, so you can be reasonably assured your business is represented as competent and pleasant.

Black Friday statistics suggest the need for adequate preparation and staffing ahead of this nationwide event. By planning ahead, your business may reap the rewards of a boost in sales while making a great impression on new customers.

This website contains articles posted for informational and educational value. Paychex is not responsible for information contained within any of these materials. Any opinions expressed within materials are not necessarily the opinion of, or supported by, Paychex. The information in these materials should not be considered legal or accounting advice, and it should not substitute for legal, accounting, and other professional advice where the facts and circumstances warrant.
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