Black Friday 2020 Recap: 4 Big Takeaways from the Data

Toward the end of November, we made some predictions about how Black Friday would be different this year. With all the ways COVID-19 has impacted ecommerce, there was simply no way that the year’s biggest shopping weekend would simply be business as usual.

More stores announced that they’d be closed on Thanksgiving. Some brands chose to do month-long sales instead of cramming all their best deals into Black Friday weekend. And most state health administrations encouraged consumers to avoid shopping in person if they could.

But if you’ve been paying attention to the sales and traffic data this year, you know ecommerce has shown no signs of slowing down, and for the time being, part of the “new normal” has included far more online shopping.

So what happened on Black Friday weekend in 2020? We analyzed website traffic and online sales data from nearly 2,000 brands—including many of the world’s leading brands—and more than 500,000 products. Here are four major takeaways from our research.

1. Ecommerce traffic saw all-time highs

On November 27, 2020, PriceSpider’s platform recorded the highest total traffic it’s ever seen in a single day. Black Friday website traffic increased 29 percent compared to Black Friday 2019. While daily traffic to ecommerce websites has been higher since the pandemic, Black Friday 2020 saw 14.9 percent more traffic than the pandemic’s previous high on April 16, 2020.

Clearly, consumers were ready to explore deals on Black Friday. But, that increased traffic on Black Friday itself, didn’t translate into increased sales, more to come on why that was in a bit.

2. PriceSpider Black Friday ecommerce sales dollars decreased by 22 percent

Sales revenue on the platform was slightly down this year. Compared to last year, PriceSpider’s platform recorded 22 percent less sales revenue on Black Friday, and 6.7 percent less sales for the entire weekend of Black Friday. This shouldn’t come as a surprise when you consider that many stores made plans to stretch out their Black Friday deals over a longer period.

But while the “peak” of Black Friday was a bit lower than 2019, overall sales and traffic were up for the entire month of November.

3. November ecommerce activity significantly increased

Compared to 2019, November’s overall ecommerce traffic increased 47.6 percent, and overall sales revenue increased 68.6 percent. This makes sense because major retailers promoted and launched sales well ahead of Black Friday weekend. Why the change? Spreading out the sales meant reducing foot traffic on a weekend famous for human stampedes. Understandably, stores were less excited than usual about the prospect of cramming as many consumers as they could into their brick and mortar locations. 

4. Cyber Monday was Ahead…by a Little

Cyber Monday’s ecommerce traffic increased more this year than Black Friday’s: year over year traffic was up 38.3 percent. But while Black Friday took a significant hit in sales this year, Cyber Monday was a moderate gain. Compared to last year, Cyber Monday sales revenue increased a 9.1 percent on the PriceSpider Platform. 

It wasn’t as sharp of an increase as previous years, but with month’s of increased ecommerce sales and a population that has essentially been trained to prioritize online shopping by default, it appears that a day dedicated to online sales simply wasn’t as alluring as it used to be. Black Friday was effectively a holiday dedicated to online deals, as was the entire month of November—where people clearly still made plenty of online purchases.

Given the trend, we can probably expect that overall holiday spending online will increase this year, but the biggest peaks of the shopping season will be smaller. When this never-ending year is over, we’ll pull the data again and share the final stats you need to know going into 2021. Sign up below to follow along with us.

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