Opting out of Black Friday 2023: Why some shoppers have soured on the shopping holiday
November 10th, 2023, Hoang Nguyen

Opting out of Black Friday 2023: Why some shoppers have soured on the shopping holiday

Black Friday is one of the biggest shopping events of the year, with brands and retailers for consumers’ attention and interest during the kickoff to the holiday season.

However, recent data suggests a potential shift in consumer engagement with the shopping holiday. A YouGov study of consumer perceptions towards Black Friday reveals that over half of US consumers (52%) have no plans to participate in Black Friday shopping this year.

The finding marks a significant departure from self-reported behaviors in previous years, prompting us to explore the underlying reasons behind consumer pessimism this holiday season and what it means for the future of the long-standing retail tradition.

Going cold turkey on Black Friday shopping

Women are especially likely to say they participated in Black Friday in the past but will be skipping this year.

It will be a Black Friday-free holiday season for roughly half of consumers overall in the US. But many are turning away this year despite taking part in the shopping event other years.

A substantial 24% of people in the US who say they have previously participated in Black Friday shopping have decided to forgo the experience this year.

Who is most likely to be skipping? 28% of consumers aged 50 to 64 and 27% of women say they’ll pass on Black Friday shopping this year, with both groups significantly more likely to say so compared to the overall US population.

While the overall outlook may seem bleak, there are still plenty of consumers who plan to participate in Black Friday shopping this year.

A third of consumers (33%) prove to be Black Friday loyalists, saying they’ve shopped for deals during the shopping holiday before and will do so again this year. Black Friday may also see some new customers this year, with 10% reporting they haven’t shopped Black Friday deals before but that they will do so for the first time this year. Together, these two groups represent the 43% of US consumers who say they’ll shop on or around Black Friday.

Skepticism surrounding discounts

21% of people skipping Black Friday this year don’t think the event offers genuine discounts.

Black Friday has long been associated with sales and promotions and there is a sizeable share of consumers who believe in the savings offered during Black Friday. Three in 10 (30%) people who are aware of Black Friday think they can find genuine discounts during the shopping event, rising to half (49%) of people who intend to shop on Black Friday this year.

But some consumers question whether the savings on offer during Black Friday are truly exceptional. We asked consumers about their thoughts on finding genuine discounts during Black Friday and a fifth of Black Friday-aware consumers don’t think they’ll find any real deals.

A similar proportion (21%) of people skipping Black Friday this year are of the same mind. But there’s another line of reasoning that most Black Friday skippers point to: Black Friday may offer discounts, but there are better deals at other times of the year (62%).

This prevailing sentiment may stem from the proliferation of year-round sales and promotional events offered by retailers and brands (Amazon, for example, has two Prime Days now). Despite this challenge, the silver lining is that retailers have an opportunity to rebuild trust and demonstrate the value savings of their Black Friday deals over other sales days to regain consumer confidence.

Bad Black Friday shopping experiences

Shoppers struggle with overcrowded stores, unavailable items and difficulty checking out.

Navigating Black Friday has been a mixed bag for some shoppers and many report having had bad experiences in years past, whether shopping in-person or online during the event. What are the main frustrations that consumers gripe about, and which ones could be deterring people from Black Friday this year?

Overcrowded stores appear to be the biggest detractor from a good Black Friday shopping experience. More than two-fifths (44%) of people who ventured into stores found themselves in an uncomfortable store environment. This discomfort is even more pronounced among people skipping Black Friday this year, with over 54% having experienced packed spaces.

Inventory woes are another common frustration reported by people who have shopped Black Friday deals in the past, with 37% encountering out-of-stock or unavailable products.

Another significant issue was the difficulty in finalizing purchases, whether due to website crashes or physical stores being difficult to check out. This was experienced by 31% of previous Black Friday shoppers and 35% of those skipping Black Friday this year.

Hidden conditions on promotions or discounts were a concern for 19% of previous Black Friday shoppers and in a similar vein, 13% of people reported instances where advertised promotions or discounts were not honored at the time of purchase.

An additional 12% of previous Black Friday shoppers said they ordered something on Black Friday, but their order was cancelled later on.

These reported experiences serve as valuable insights into the challenges faced by consumers during Black Friday. Retailers can take these issues into account and work towards creating a more seamless, safe and transparent shopping experience, whether shoppers choose to participate in Black Friday from the comfort of their homes or head out to shop in-person.


YouGov Surveys: Serviced provides quick survey results from nationally representative or targeted audiences. This study was conducted online between October 16-18th, 2023, with a representative sample of 1,199 adults (aged 18+ years) in the United States, using a questionnaire designed by YouGov. Learn more about YouGov Surveys: Serviced.

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