Black Friday Report

Gen Z Sours on Black Friday While Buy Now, Pay Later Sales Surge

November 2023

Shoppers made less of their planned holiday purchases during Black Friday this year than they did last year, and data shows trends of discontentedness from Gen Z. With inflationary pressures continuing to weigh on consumers’ budgets, it appears that they are prioritizing deals — and are increasingly willing to go outside the confines of Black Friday to get them.

The average holiday shopper spent roughly $533 on Black Friday, with those using Pay Later options spending 48% more on their holiday shopping than those using other methods.
Black Friday engagement is declining among Gen Z holiday shoppers, likely driven by perceptions of the day’s diminishing significance and worsening deals.
Millennials plan to make nearly half of their holiday purchases at local merchants because of the merchants’ better prices and product quality.


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    In “Black Friday 2023: Consumers Widen Their Search for Holiday Bargains, PYMNTS Intelligence delves into how inflation shaped the highest profile day of the 2023 holiday shopping season. We surveyed a census-balanced panel of 2,691 consumers on Nov. 25 about how they spent Black Friday to learn how they adapted their shopping and spending habits in the face of ongoing price increases — and by how much.



    Introduction

    This year, 15 million more United States consumers shopped on Black Friday than on the same day in 2020, during the height of the pandemic. Despite the overall gain, the number remains virtually the same as that of last year. This suggests that inflationary pressures continue to weigh on consumers’ spending — even as inflation has significantly slowed to 3.2% as of October 2023, down from 7.7% one year ago.1

    Last year, high inflation caused many U.S. consumers to forgo holiday shopping altogether, yet many still made purchases on Black Friday. Data shows that of all the holiday purchases consumers planned to make, on average, shoppers made 20% during Black Friday 2023. This share represents a slight decrease from last year, in which shoppers made 22% of planned holiday purchases on Black Friday. In fact, many plan to make holiday purchases before or after Black Friday and before or after Christmas. Meanwhile, in-store-only shopping continues to dwindle in favor of online options and is now responsible for just 16% of all holiday shopping. In other words, inflation-weary consumers remain budget-conscious and plan to shop where they find the best deals.

    In “Black Friday 2023: Consumers Widen Their Search for Holiday Bargains,” PYMNTS Intelligence delves into how slower but continued inflation shaped the highest profile day of the 2023 holiday shopping season. We surveyed a census-balanced panel of 2,691 consumers on Nov. 25 about their actions on Black Friday to learn how they adapted their shopping and spending habits in the face of ongoing price increases — and by how much.

    Key Findings

    Turnout increased 10%, but consumers completed just one-fifth of all their holiday shopping on Black Friday.

    Modern Black Friday shopping is all about the search for bargains, with consumers turning to online sources more than in-store doorbusters. In fact, the number of consumers making Black Friday purchases exclusively in-store has declined, with just 16% of holiday shoppers prioritizing brick-and-mortar options this year. This represents a drop from 22% in 2021.

    Overall participation in Black Friday has increased since the height of the pandemic, but the data suggests that higher participation is not necessarily deeper. This year, 53% of consumers made at least one purchase on Black Friday 2023, compared to 48% in 2020. Still, U.S. consumers made just 20% of their planned holiday purchases this year, down from 22% in 2022. This decrease suggests consumers are looking for deals in other places and on other days. Post-Christmas shopping makes up 14% of all holiday spending in 2023, up from 13% in 2022 and 11% in 2020. Baby boomers and seniors are leaving more of their holiday purchases for later in the year, as are consumers annually earning less than $50,000.

    Historically, the Black Friday rush has been about inventory. Consumers in past decades lined up for hours at some stores to ensure their preferred deal did not go out of stock. Inventory is still an issue, but one that is receding over time. This year, one-third of Black Friday shoppers found that their intended purchases were out of stock, down from 38% in 2021. Consumers see such frictions as less of a problem since 2021 as well. More than half of Black Friday shoppers said that stock issues were less of a problem this year — and as recently as 2021, most shoppers said stock issues were rising.

    The average consumer spent roughly $533 on Black Friday. Those who used Pay Later options spent 48% more on holiday shopping than those using other methods.

    U.S. consumers plan to spend $1,516 on their holiday purchases overall, with $533 already spent on Black Friday. Yet data suggests that deferred payment or pay later options, such as BNPL or credit card installment plans, may have enabled consumers to spend more. Holiday shoppers who used deferred payment options spent $598, a total larger than the $452 average among those who did not use a deferred payment method. This difference suggests that some budget-conscious consumers use these tools to manage cash flow without sacrificing the amount they spend.

    Meanwhile, one-third of shoppers said they spent less on Black Friday than last year, indicating that some controlled their cash flow by more strictly budgeting their Black Friday holiday spending. In fact, Black Friday shoppers were 9% more likely in 2023 than in 2022 to say they spent less this year than the year prior. While 30% said they spent less this year than last, just 28% did so in 2022, further suggesting that consumers may be allocating their holiday spending to other days.

    Black Friday engagement is declining among Gen Z holiday shoppers, likely driven by perceptions of worsening deals and the diminishing significance of the day.

    Interest in Black Friday may be declining, especially among Gen Z consumers. Although 75% of Gen Z holiday shoppers participated in Black Friday, 83% had done so in 2020. Gen Z consumers are 46% more likely than the average holiday shopper to think deals are worse this year than last. While 38% said deals are somewhat or much worse this year, just 26% said the same in 2022.

    This trending negative sentiment influences how they perceive the day, with Gen Z holiday shoppers nearly twice as likely this year than last year to say Black Friday is less important. While 11% said Black Friday decreased in importance in 2022, 20% said the same in 2023. As more and more Gen Z consumers think less of Black Friday, the reduced participation this year may worsen.

    Early birds prefer to shop before Black Friday due to crowds and product availability concerns.

    As holiday shoppers seem to be making more purchases on a wider variety of days, the data reveals one reason some opt to shop earlier: Concerns about crowds and product availability. In fact, 28% of early birds cite better chances to find stock and a wider selection of products available as the reason they shop before Black Friday. Nineteen percent cite avoiding crowds as their motivator.

    Early birds and post-Black Friday shoppers also agree in their desire to avoid crowds. One in five post-Black Friday shoppers cite crowd avoidance as the most important reason to hold off on holiday shopping. Those who commit to shopping on the day of weigh other advantages as justifications to deal with the crowds: 61% of Black Friday shoppers prefer shopping on the day because of better prices and better promotions, as do 39% of those shopping on or after Christmas. These budget-conscious consumers may ultimately be more interested in bargains than product availability.

    Millennials plan to complete nearly half of their holiday purchases at local merchants because of better prices and product quality.

    Store location and better prices are the top reasons consumers say they will complete 41% of their holiday shopping at local merchants, whether online or in-store. The share of holiday purchases consumers plan to buy locally reaches a high of 48% among millennials and a low of 36% among baby boomers and seniors. Millennials are shopping local because of better prices, at 14%, and product quality, at 9.5%.

    Baby boomers and seniors, on the other hand, are purchasing at local retailers for different reasons. Sixteen percent say it is because of a convenient location, 8.4% say store familiarity, 8.1% say availability of store deals and 10.6% have a general preference for local merchants. Gen Z consumers are the most likely to shop with local retailers because of free shipping. Gen X consumers are likeliest to shop with local retailers because there is more product availability and no crowds or queues.

    Seven in 10 shoppers admit that ads, influencers and media broadly influenced their purchasing decisions.

    Advertising and social media content were the most influential factors for consumer purchases on Black Friday, with just 28% of consumers saying the media did not influence their purchases. One-third of consumers noted that advertising on a website was an influence, with 17% of saying it was the most important influence on a Black Friday purchasing decision. The next most ubiquitous was TV advertising, which influenced 31% of consumers. Seventeen percent of these consumers said it was the top influence. Social media was nearly as influential: 30% of consumers named it as a factor when making a Black Friday purchasing decision, with 14% citing social media as the most important influence.

    Conclusion

    With Black Friday 2023 behind us, consumers will continue to look for bargains this holiday season, even as inflation has slowed significantly. Black Friday’s snapshot of how consumers will engage in holiday shopping shows that they spent less this year yet plan to shop throughout the holiday season and beyond. Even as in-store shopping has given way to online purchases, shopping locally is important to nearly half of millennials looking for better prices and quality products.

    Finally, the ads influencing consumers’ Black Friday purchases have split roughly into thirds for online ads, TV ads and social media, suggesting that Black Friday shopping is on course to grow more omnichannel as we move into the future, both in terms of how consumers shop, pay for and acquire their purchases.

    Methodology

    Black Friday 2023: Consumers Widen Their Search for Holiday Bargains,” PYMNTS delves into how slower but continuing inflation shaped the first official day of the 2023 holiday shopping season. We surveyed a census-balanced panel of 2,691 consumers on Nov. 25 about how they spent Black Friday to learn how they adapted their shopping and spending habits in the face of ongoing price increases — and by how much. Our sample was balanced to match the U.S. adult population in a set of key demographic variables: 54% of respondents identified as female, 35% were college-educated and 36% declared incomes of more than $100,000 per year.


    Read the 2022 report, “Black Friday 2022: High Prices Reshape Holiday Shopping Habits,” for more.


    1. [Author unknown. Consumer Price Index. U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. 2023. https://www.bls.gov/cpi/. Accessed November 2023.]

    About

    Ingo

    PYMNTS Intelligence is a leading global data and analytics platform that uses proprietary data and methods to provide actionable insights on what’s now and what’s next in payments, commerce and the digital economy. Its team of data scientists include leading economists, econometricians, survey experts, financial analysts and marketing scientists with deep experience in the application of data to the issues that define the future of the digital transformation of the global economy. This multilingual team has conducted original data collection and analysis in more than three dozen global markets for some of the world’s leading publicly traded and privately held firms.

    The PYMNTS Intelligence team that produced this Report:
    Scott Murray, SVP and Head of Analytics
    Yvonni Markaki, PhD, Senior Analyst
    Margot Suydam, Senior Writer


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