2021 Black Friday and Cyber Monday Consumer Trends and Insights Ahead of BFCM 2022

The holidays are fast approaching and Cyber Week is just around the corner. Many online retailers and brick-and-mortar establishments, such as Walmart and Best Buy, are starting to roll out early deals in preparation for it. 

Cyber Week is a mega retail event that spans five days, covering five major shopping dates: US Thanksgiving Day, Black Friday, Small Business Saturday, Super Sunday, and Cyber Monday. Of these special days, consumers look forward to Black Friday and Cyber Monday (BFCM) the most. BFCM serves as a snapshot of global trade and retail and offers a view into the next year.

Just how popular are these shopping days? What trends do retailers and shoppers need to know to prepare for this year’s Black Friday and Cyber Monday, and just how much revenue did these two events generate in 2021?

Let’s take a look at some jaw-dropping statistics for Black Friday and Cyber Monday and explore the best practices for online sellers, consumer behavior, and shopping trends.

Exploring Black Friday and Cyber Monday: Stats & Consumer Trends:

What is Black Friday?

You might have already come across footage showing retail stores in total chaos or shoppers frantically racing into stores, grabbing TVs, small appliances, and clothing from shelves. That’s Black Friday in a nutshell: outrageous deals, big crowds, and bigger revenue. 

Black Friday, the Friday after Thanksgiving, is a popular time for consumers to do their Christmas shopping because of generous discounts. Popular items that go on sale during Black Friday include electronics, toys, home furnishings, and apparel. 

But before the term “Black Friday” became synonymous with low prices and hordes of shoppers, it was originally used to describe streets filled with shoppers looking for deals after Thanksgiving. This was back in the early 1960s in Philadelphia. The term itself goes back to almost 100 years prior. In 1869, it was used to refer to the collapse of the stock market. 

Why is it called “Black Friday”?

Let’s go back to the 1960s, when it was used to mark the start of the holiday shopping season. The “black” referred to the shift from the use of red to black ink in accounting records during the season, where the latter was used to mark profit. 

While Black Friday is traditionally observed after Thanksgiving, its date hasn’t prevented many retailers, both online and physical, from offering deals weeks before the actual event. Some of these offers even get extended a few days after Black Friday itself. 

What is Cyber Monday?

Compared to Black Friday, Cyber Monday is a more recent retail event. The term was used in the early 2000s by the National Retail Foundation (NRF) to describe the popularity of online sales that happened on the Monday after Thanksgiving. It served as an online counterpart to Black Friday, which primarily involved brick-and-mortar establishments.  

The growing popularity of smartphones has also pushed Cyber Monday and online shopping to the forefront. Many consumers have started using their smartphones to discover Cyber Monday deals and make purchases.

While it was previously a one-day event, Cyber Monday has become so popular that some retailers have extended the event to span up to a week, calling it Cyber Week or Cyber Week II, which usually starts during Christmas Day (December 25) until the New Year. 

Cyber Monday is known for low prices on tech-related merchandise, like laptops, gaming consoles, smart speakers, VR devices, and TVs. However, you can also spot other deals for mattresses, appliances, and cameras. 

2021 Black Friday and Cyber Monday Statistics, Revenue, and Data

Now, it’s no secret that Black Friday and Cyber Monday rake in a lot of sales and revenue. But just how big is big when it comes to generated revenue, and how many shoppers took part in these retail events? Let’s take a look at some figures that paint a picture of the scale of last year’s BFCM.

Black Friday and Cyber Monday Statistics

📊 Almost 180 million unique shoppers

According to the National Retail Federation's 2021 report, 179.8 million unique shoppers completed in-store and online shopping over the BFCM holiday weekend. (NRF)

📊 Black Friday remains the favorite shopping event

Black Friday was the most popular day for in-store shopping. Retailers saw a rise in foot traffic, from 92.3 million shoppers in 2020 to around 104.9 million in 2021. In terms of overall online buyers, Black Friday outperformed Cyber Monday, with 88 million consumers purchasing on Black Friday compared to 77 million on Cyber Monday. (NRF)

📊 It’s all about holiday presents

Shoppers spent an average of $301.27 on holiday-related items, such as presents, decorations, clothes, and toys during the BFCM event. Like in previous years, the bulk ($215.40) of that sum was spent on gifts. (NRF)

📊 BFCM worldwide

Global online sales during the BFCM reached an all-time high of $275 billion in 2021, an increase of 2% from 2020. The amount spent in the United States was approximately $62 billion, up 4% from 2020. (Salesforce)

📊 Toys, video games, and electronics

The most popular purchases on Cyber Monday were toys, video games, and electronics. Among the top-selling toys are Nerf, Paw Patrol, and Hot Wheels. The top-selling video games were Just Dance 2022, Spider Man: Miles Morales, and FIFA 22. Meanwhile, the top sales in electronics were Apple (AirPods and Apple Watch), HP, Lenovo, and Dell (laptops), Samsung and Sony (smart TVs), and Nintendo (Switch and Switch Lite). (Adobe)

📊 Paltry discounts

Discounts were meager in comparison to past years. Discounts in 2021 were significantly lower. Electronics were discounted at 12% (vs. 27% in 2020), televisions at 13% (vs. 18% in 2020), sporting goods at 8% (vs. 20% in 2020), apparel at 18% (vs. 20% in 2020), and appliances at 8% (vs. 20% in 2020). (Adobe)

📊 Increased overall costs

Between Cyber Week 2020 and last year’s Cyber Week, the average price of all items rose by 11%. By the end of 2021, labor shortages, supply chain inefficiencies, and inflation had raised the overall price of goods supplied for both online and brick-and-mortar businesses by $220 billion. The cost was split by the vendors and buyers. (DataHawk)

Black Friday Cyber Monday Increased overall costs

Source: shopify.com

📊 Amazon is king

Despite having problems with warehousing and unloading, Amazon third-party vendors enjoyed impressive BFCM sales in 2021. Amazon's sales on Black Friday climbed by 10.68%. The total number of units sold increased by more than 4%. Overall, Amazon was 14% cheaper than its top rivals. Despite increased prices, Amazon outperformed competitors like Walmart and Target due to its proven business model. (DataHawk)

📊 Record-breaking Shopify sales

Between Black Friday and Cyber Monday, Shopify shop owners earned a record $6.3 billion in worldwide sales, a 23% increase from 2020. (Shopify)

📊 Predominantly Americans

Even though the Black Friday sales event has spread to other countries, it is still considerably more common in the United States than anywhere else. The bulk of Black Friday searches is made from devices in the United States, accounting for around 21.2% of all searches. (Statista)

Share of Black Friday searches coming from selected countries

Source: statista.com

2021 Black Friday and Cyber Monday Consumer Behavior and Trends

The pandemic impacted every aspect of life, including retail. It caused ecommerce growth to skyrocket as more people shopped from the safety of their homes. Customers have changed their shopping habits even after lockdowns and quarantines, and several new patterns have emerged, including:

Black Friday and Cyber Monday Consumer Behavior and Trends

📊 Curbside services and local shipping

Buyers prefer shops that provide “order online, curbside pickup” services. Retailers in the US offering curbside or in-store pickup boosted their revenue during Black Friday by 50% YoY compared to those without pickup services. (Salesforce)

📊 Small, indie businesses

Buyers chose to buy at small businesses and independent retailers. During 2021 BFCM, around 47 million shoppers around the globe purchased from small, local, and direct-to-consumer businesses. (Shopify)

📊 Mobile over desktop

Mobile continues to outperform desktop as the preferred platform for product discovery and browsing in terms of online traffic, orders, and revenue. During the BFCM weekend, mobile devices accounted for 69% of online product surf and search, while laptops or desktops accounted for 31%. Still, desktop conversion rates are higher than mobile ones, mirroring the 2020 numbers of 4% vs. 2%. (Nosto)

📊 Supply chain challenges

Digital shelves were not as fully stocked as in past years due to early and ongoing supply chain issues, giving consumers fewer gift alternatives. Compared to Cyber Week in 2020, the number of product catalogs decreased by 6% in the US and 5% worldwide. (Salesforce)

📊 First-time buyers

Across all sectors, consumers tried new brands for the first time, which is a common holiday behavior as buyers try new products with all the discounts. Consumer Electronics has the highest percentage of first-time purchasers (89%), denoting that many shoppers are attracted by persuasive deals on costly products like smart TVs and do not normally become repeat customers. (Bluecore)

📊 Alternative Payment Methods

Buyers prefer alternative payment methods (APMs) such as Apple Pay, Google Pay, PayPal, and Buy Now, Pay Later (installment) services. APMs were used in 20% of all BFCM transactions in 2021, a 26% rise YoY. About 6% of all purchases over the Thanksgiving weekend utilized a Buy Now, Pay Later option, a 12% increase YoY. Installment payments grew increasingly popular last year, with a 30% YoY rise. (Bolt)

However, this uptick also gave rise to challenges such as shipping delays and increased competition for retailers. Moreover, shoppers aren’t just restricted to offers from physical stores. Social media has also become a popular alternative to shopping on the retailer’s website.

With the surge in online shopping, more online channels have popped up. Consumers are now choosing to make purchases from channels that are more accessible and convenient for them. To address this, more physical stores are offering deals on their websites or upgrading their ecommerce platforms to accommodate the growing demand.

So, what can we expect for this year’s Black Friday and Cyber Monday? The pandemic hasn’t curbed the popularity of Black Friday and Cyber Monday. Instead, it has strengthened the demand for these major retail events. We can expect that more people are going to do their holiday shopping earlier to avoid issues like shipping delays and make the most out of the year's biggest shopping event.

Marketers must prioritize digital marketing since the digital consumer audience has never been bigger. Traditional posters, banners, TV ads, and flyers are still effective, but using digital channels is the way to go. There are other venues to leverage, such as email marketing and social media marketing, which do not have to cost an arm and a leg.

Best Practices for Online Sellers

Sellers can take advantage of the sales boost that these retail events bring. Having a solid strategy can help you leverage the popularity of Black Friday and Cyber Monday. Here are some tips to help you out:

Best Practices for Online Sellers

📌Start early

Since there will be many variables to consider, you should start preparing as soon as possible to make the most of the Thanksgiving shopping event. Additionally, advertising costs are more expensive during BFCM season, so optimize your ads across all your digital platforms. If you draw in fresh leads now, you can remarket to them in the days before BFCM with special, tailored offers.

📌Establish your online presence

There’s no denying that you’ll have a lot of competition on Black Friday and Cyber Monday. To increase your chances of getting found by consumers, you need to focus on improving your brand visibility. Optimize your website and incorporate relevant keywords in your listings, product descriptions, or content. Promote your business on social media or work with influencers who can help your products or services obtain a bigger audience.

📌Employ email marketing

Email marketing is here to stay because it’s an indispensable tool. It also offers a more cost-effective alternative to CPC campaigns, while still being a viable source of substantial return on investment (ROI).

📌Think carefully about the deals you’re offering

While it might be tempting to offer countless deals and discounts to entice customers, it’s worth noting that you should go about this carefully. Your offers can become a double-edged sword, especially if you just throw in discounts willy-nilly. 

Aside from discounts, consider offering product bundles, especially if you have some old stock, or discounted shipping rates.

📌Leverage positive reviews

Work on getting genuine, positive reviews from your satisfied customers because these can help you gain the trust of new visitors.

Final Thoughts

While Black Friday and Cyber Monday are two separate events, the lines dividing them are increasingly getting blurred. Both offer low prices for a variety of products. They technically fall under the same holiday shopping period. In some cases, Black Friday deals even extend well into Cyber Monday. Moreover, as Black Friday offers are rolled out as early as late October, many retailers are pushing their Cyber Monday sales earlier. 

As the digital landscape continues to change, we’re seeing how ecommerce retailers adapt to trends and consumer needs. Online shopping has been gaining popularity for quite a while now, but the pandemic has elevated it to new heights. We’re seeing more individuals doing their shopping online using their mobile devices and more retailers rolling out shopping deals earlier. 

Whether you choose to offer deals on Black Friday or Cyber Monday, capitalizing on the popularity of Cyber Week can be a sales and revenue booster.

Frequently Asked Questions

Which has better offers: Cyber Monday or Black Friday?

While both events offer major discounts, Black Friday lends itself well to newer or big-ticket items. Cyber Monday is an ideal time for promos on new gadgets or smaller items.

How much revenue did Cyber Monday and Black Friday generate in 2019?

Black Friday raked in a total of $8.9 billion, while Cyber Monday hit $10.7 billion in 2021. (Adobe)

Which retailers offer Cyber Monday and Black Friday deals?

A lot of big names and smaller retailers regularly participate in Black Friday and Cyber Monday. Retail giants include:

Best Buy
Bed Bath & Beyond

When did Cyber Monday begin? 

The term was first used in 2005 by the National Retail Federation.

Which categories are the most popular during Black Friday?

A lot of products go on sale during Black Friday, but here are some of the most popular categories you can look forward to:

  • Toys
  • Small appliances
  • Electronics (smart speakers, gaming consoles, mobile devices, etc.)
  • Apparel