SpendTrend Report:
Thanksgiving & Black Friday 2015

Retail Spending Up 9.4% as Shoppers Spend Big on Thanksgiving Day and Black Friday

Despite reports to the contrary, Black Friday is alive and well.

First Data’s SpendTrend report analyzing consumer spending on Thanksgiving Day and Black Friday provides a clear message: Americans still love shopping on Thanksgiving and Black Friday, and online sales are more important than ever.

Data from the last few years – as well as recent media coverage – indicated that shoppers were moving from the traditional two-day focus to more equally distributed sales throughout the month of November. However, those predictions proved inaccurate this year as Thanksgiving and Black Friday provided a significant boost to retailers. This year, Thanksgiving and Black Friday sales spiked 9.4% over the two-day period compared to last year’s 3.5% growth during the same period. Online sales seemingly drove much of the growth, as year-over-year eCommerce transactions grew 19.8% on Thanksgiving and 12.1% on Black Friday.

Pre-Holiday vs. Holiday Retail Sales Growth


eCommerce Dominates Growth

Americans love their deals and 2015 was no different. This year, however, instead of rushing to stand in line at their favorite big-box retailer, shoppers were getting online from the comfort of their own homes.

As the family chef was waking up to stuff the turkey, the rest of the family was surfing the web to catch the best deals of the day. Online sales grew 14.3% overall, with the 5 a.m. hour showing sales growth soar past 40%. For the majority of Thanksgiving Day, the growth rate stayed above 15%.

Year-Over-Year Change in Brick & Mortar vs. eCommerce Spending Growth

Thanksgiving Black Friday

At the stores, business was also brisk early morning of Thanksgiving Day, with families rushing out before Thanksgiving dinner to get a jump on other shoppers, as sales grew 8.2% for the day.

Year-Over-Year Change in Spend by Hour


Thanksgiving Black Friday

After 4 p.m. ET on Thanksgiving Day, sales began to taper off, with most shoppers choosing to forego the tradition of shopping at midnight on Black Friday.

Overall, spending on Thanksgiving Day grew 14.3%, while Black Friday spending grew 8.2%.

eCommerce Grows to Dominate Black Friday Sales

Online sales as a percentage of total spend steadily grew from 13.6% in 2013 to 18.3% in 2015, indicating an ongoing shift from brick & mortar to eCommerce.

Brick & Mortar vs. eCommerce Share
of Thanksgiving/Black Friday Sales


Building Materials & Garden Equipment Lead the Pack for Retail Spend

The retail subcategory that saw the most growth was building materials & garden equipment, with a healthy 21% growth rate. Health & personal care stores saw a decrease in growth.

Retail Sales Growth Over Thanksgiving/Black Friday 2015


Electronics, Hotels Drop Prices to Win Customers

When it came to ticket size, 2015 was a mixed bag, with half of subcategories showing modest gains, and the other half, modest decreases. Electronics & appliances had the lowest average ticket prices, declining nearly $30, from $149.50 last year to $122.50 in 2015. The decrease may have been driven by big sales in electronics designed to bring bargain hunters through the door. Hotels also posted decreases in their average ticket size, from $249.30 to $222.

Retail Average Ticket Size


Among the non-retail categories, the travel industry (including air/rail/ship) saw a decline in average ticket size, from $130.90 in 2014 to $65.40.

Non-Retail Average Ticket Size


Travel’s (air/rail/ship) average ticket price over the holiday weekend dropped significantly, from $130.90 in 2014 to $65.40 this year.

Nation’s Northeast Leads Holiday Spend

Good weather, low gas prices, and an improving economy led to positive growth nationwide this holiday weekend, with all regions showing positive year-over-year growth. New England and the Mid-Atlantic regions were 2015’s biggest winners, with growth of 13.1 and 12.9%, respectively, versus losses of 2-3 percentage points last year. Last year’s losses were likely attributable to the severe weather in the New England and Mid-Atlantic regions that kept shoppers home. This year, the relatively mild weather created a better holiday shopping environment for East Coasters.

First Data Methodology

First Data processes nearly half of all US transactions, or $1.7 Trillion in commerce in the US alone, which provides the company with unparalleled insight into spending habits across the country. SpendTrend analyzes credit and debit transactions, as well as EBT purchases.

Over 820,000 merchant locations across all US states were used for the analyses that represent the number of stores open for business on Thursday and Friday that have had services with First Data for at least 13 months. Our analysis is based on normalized POS activity from First Data’s proprietary systems. Our data includes all forms of card-based payments and checks where appropriate.

All growth rates compare current month to the same month prior year. Growth rates are not based on prior sequential month but always reflect year-over-year growth. We believe year-over-year growth better reflects organic spending patterns.

Stay tuned to this page for more SpendTrend updates throughout the season, including Cyber Monday spending data later this week.

If you are a member of the media working on a story about holiday spending and have questions, please reach out to Liidia Liuksila.