Clarkston Consulting
Skip to content

2023 Black Friday: Expectations vs. Results

Over the years, Black Friday and Cyber Monday have become the pinnacle shopping event for retailers globally across all sales channels. Extensive marketing campaigns, discounts, and incentives are used to drive demand skyward. Retailers and manufacturers, however, must ensure their inventories and supply chains keep pace with this demand. As pandemic-era online preferences converge with recent returns to in-person shopping, this year’s Black Friday was poised for positive growth. Let’s unpack 2023 Black Friday expectations vs results!

Below, we discuss recent Black Friday trends in the U.S., revisit our initial expectations for 2023, and summarize what actually happened.

2023 Black Friday Trends 

Black Friday will remain in shoppers’ minds long after the excitement wears off due to the extensive use of the Buy Now Pay Later (BNPL) payment method. In 2022, Black Friday and Cyber Monday had an 85% increase in shoppers choosing BNPL compared to the previous week. The increase in 2023 is likely attributed to the weakening economy that has reduced consumers’ cash on hand.  

Crucially, however, shoppers in 2023 are still choosing to spend even as a potential recession looms. BNPL defers the immediate burden of a large purchase and allows customers to maintain spending at record levels. 2023 has also seen the rise of many new BNPL companies. With more BNPL options available, shoppers are now demanding it at point of service, forcing companies to rapidly adopt it for fear of falling behind.   

Customers also care about sustainability more than ever. This is evidenced by consumers more frequently deciding to only purchase necessities on Black Friday to avoid waste. In 2023, this may mean that retailers prioritize discounts for household items that customers need to purchase anyway. Consequently, this year will also likely see record sales, but we may see shifts in what shoppers actually choose to buy.  

2023 Expectations 

2023 is expected to continue years of increased total spending trends. In 2022, roughly $20 billion was spent on Black Friday and Cyber Monday in the U.S. alone. Despite high interest rates and inflation, consumer spending is not expected to slow down in time for the holiday. This does mean, however, that consumers may be more wary of shelling out cash for unneeded items and may prioritize necessities.  

Cyber Monday is also expected to be even larger than Black Friday. Pre-sales have dissuaded many from risking a trip to the store when they could shop online, and this has shown in recent years. In 2022, Cyber Monday spending outpaced Black Friday by nearly $2 billion. The rise of AI and personalized shopping in 2023 may have bolstered this performance, as shoppers feel that it’s easier to find what they want online.  

U.S.-based international companies can expect demand surges across the world like never before. Cities like London are keeping pace with American metropolises like New York and Los Angeles. This means a greater strain on international supply chains, which will certainly have secondary effects upon the U.S. market in 2023. For example, businesses spreading their inventories across the world may result in faster and more severe shortages in the U.S..

Finally, mobile shopping and campaign messaging are expected to continue to play major roles in this year’s spree. In the past two years, mobile shopping has accounted for at least half of all spending over the holiday weekend. The same goes for email campaigns, where over half are opened on mobile devices. Retailers and merchants will likely capitalize upon 2023 developments in AI to tailor shopping experiences and advertisements for mobile viewers.  

2023 Black Friday Expectations vs. Results: What Actually Happened 

As anticipated, online spending during this year’s Black Friday rose nearly 8% to roughly $10 billion. This significant jump may be attributed to shoppers feeling optimistic due to decreases in common expenses like gas and groceries from the peak hit last year. Excitement, however, didn’t extend to in-person shopping, as a majority of the spending growth occurred online. This may be because lengthy discount campaigns have removed the urgency to search for anything in store. 

While this year’s figure of $79 million in BNPL spend is only a small fraction of total weekend expenditure, the growth rate is telling. Buy Now Pay Later usage spiked up 47% from last year, indicating huge momentum behind the service. This may be a warning sign for slowed spending later in the holiday season, as consumers will still be paying for earlier purchases. As a result, retailers should keep an eye on the utilization of their store-branded credit cards and loyalty programs as consumers shift to non-branded BNPL platforms. 

Finally, the holiday weekend, including Cyber Monday, saw shoppers spend nearly $40 billion online, outpacing initial expectations. The resilience of consumer spending in the face of a potential recession may be a welcome sight for retailers as they plan amidst economic uncertainty. Whether the holidays are a last spending splurge for customers before a drop-off next year is still yet to be seen, but for now, retailers’ competitive offers seem to be resonating with customers.

For more on these trends and their impact on your retail organization, connect with our retail experts today.  


Subscribe to Clarkston's Insights

  • I'm interested in...
  • Clarkston Consulting requests your information to share our research and content with you.

    You may unsubscribe from these communications at any time.

  • This field is for validation purposes and should be left unchanged.

Contributions from Jake Park-Walters

Tags: eCommerce, Retail Trends