This year has been hard on brick-and-mortar stores, with many famous brands reducing their shopping mall footprint. While a recent survey uncovers a bright spot on the fourth quarter horizon for U.S. retailers, seasonal challenges remain. The good news is slightly more consumers say they intend to go into physical stores on Black Friday this year than in 2018 – 39% percent, up 2% from the response in a similar consumer survey last year.

Of the 61% of U.S. consumers who do not plan to go into physical stores this year on Black Friday, one third (33%) say they simply “never” go. What poses difficulty for retailers is that 28% claim they used to go shopping on Black Friday but have stopped.

These holiday shopping trends are results from a wider research survey to be released in November by Genesys, the global leader in omnichannel customer experience and contact center solutions. Genesys has conducted a series of nationwide surveys throughout the year, the latest of which polled 800 adult consumers in the U.S.A. about their opinions on the increasingly automated customer experience.

Why are Black Friday shoppers staying home?

U.S. survey participants cite three main reasons for not planning to go into physical stores on Black Friday 2019:

• The stores are too busy (37%).

• The price reductions are not worth the inconvenience (25%).

• Online shopping is easier (27%).

That first figure represents a whopping 30% drop from the 2018 Genesys survey in the impression that brick-and-mortar stores are too busy, when 67% of respondents cited the crowds as their main reason for staying home. In addition, the survey found poor customer service isn’t the culprit for many Americans’ choice to avoid stores this season. In fact, only 4% say it is their primary reason for not going into brick-and-mortar stores on Black Friday. This is a drop from 8% in the 2018 survey.

Is there a gender gap among Black Friday shoppers?

Contrary to stereotypes, the survey results find American men (45%) are more interested in brick-and-mortar shopping than women (33%) – the same gender split as last year’s survey. There is also a definite gender difference regarding online shopping, with 30% of female respondents citing it as their primary reason for avoiding brick-and-mortar stores on Black Friday versus only 23% of males.

 

Is there a generation gap in Black Friday shoppers?

Post-Millennials and Generation X Americans may offer a lifeline to brick-and-mortar stores. The survey results show these younger generations are the most optimistic when it comes to braving Black Friday crowds. In fact, there are more respondents aged 18-24 (44%), 35-44 (47%) and 45-54 (46%) who say they plan to go into physical stores this Black Friday than in 2018, with each group increasing by several percentage points.

Millennials ages 25-34 are the largest age group planning to go into physical stores, at 51%. However, while this sounds positive, it is a significant drop from the 60% of 25-to-34-year-olds in the 2018 survey. Even worse, Millennials in the 25-34 age group (35%) are more likely than the national average (27%) to feel online shopping is easier than dealing with the chaos that is Black Friday.

Baby Boomers ages 55-64 are the least likely age group to say they plan to go into physical stores this Black Friday (18%), which also represents about a 5% decrease from the 2018 survey. In addition, they are the age group most likely to say they used to participate in Black Friday, but don’t anymore (45%). Meanwhile, Baby Boomers over age 65 are the group most likely (53%) to say they “never” go into brick-and-mortar stores on Black Friday.

 

Does geography affect Black Friday shopping?

More survey respondents living in the Western region (47%) say they plan to go into physical stores this Black Friday, compared to Northeasterners who clocked in with the lowest likelihood at just 33%. Northeasterners are more likely (35%) than the national average (27%) to feel that online shopping is easier. Northeasterners also represent the largest regional populace (36%) to say they used to go into physical stores over the holiday weekend but no longer do. The same percentage of Southerners (36%) say they simply never go.

Survey methodology and demographics

In July 2019, Genesys commissioned a nationwide survey of 800 consumers over the age of 18 on their attitudes toward customer experience. The survey pool had a 50/50 gender split covering six age ranges in four geographic regions. The margin of error is plus/minus 3.5%.