Comscore Finds Consumers’ Pre-Thanksgiving Interest in Online Retail Overshadowed Black Friday

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Visitation to retail sites spiked 33% in days leading up to Thanksgiving, driven by earlier-than-normal holiday deals, while retail website visitation on Black Friday was up only 14% year-over-year

Amid the continuing COVID-19 pandemic, new research from Comscore, a trusted partner for planning, transacting and evaluating media across platforms, found that more U.S. consumers are flocking to online retail for their holiday shopping than ever before: year-over-year visitation to retail websites during the week of Thanksgiving in 2020 (Monday, November 23 through Sunday, November 29) was up 22% compared to Thanksgiving week in 2019 (Monday, November 25 through Sunday, December 1).

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Interestingly, Comscore research found that this year-over-year growth was driven not by an influx of online shopping on Black Friday, but rather by a sharp increase in the days preceding Thanksgiving. In 2020, retail website visitation on Black Friday was up only 14% year-over-year, while the Monday and Tuesday before Thanksgiving both saw year-over-year increases of 33%.

This pre-Thanksgiving spike could partially be due to retailers pushing deals traditionally reserved for Black Friday earlier than in prior years. The 2020 retail holiday season seemed to kick into gear with Amazon’s delayed Prime Day celebration on October 13 and 14. Soon after, many retailers started announcing Black Friday deals that ran through the entire month of November.

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Examining Black Friday’s share of the week’s visitation, Black Friday accounted for 16% of the week’s total retail visitation this year, similar to 2019’s 17%. This share of visitation trend was consistent across key retail categories like Apparel (18% of weekly visitation), Department Stores (19% of weekly visitation), and Food/Grocery (11% of weekly visitation).

Comscore research also found that retail site engagement, or time spent on retail sites, increased during Thanksgiving week 2020 compared to Thanksgiving week 2019. Overall, the average consumer spent 19% more minutes on retail websites than in 2019, largely driven by a huge 136% increase in the Consumer Electronics category.

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