John Otavka· Author
Black Friday has long been the most important day in retail, but as the holiday season continues to expand, the time-honored tradition of Black Friday pandemonium is gradually being outshined by pre-holiday sales and early access deals.
In fact, half of all shoppers we surveyed said the week before Thanksgiving was their biggest shopping period of that year – an increase of 8% compared to 2015.
Shoppers who agree pre-Thanksgiving is their biggest shopping period
Bizrate Insights Pre-Thanksgiving Flash Survey, November/December 2019. 7548 respondents.
That’s not to say that 2019’s Black Friday wasn’t a flurry of activity. It’s still one of the most active shopping days on the calendar, beaten out only by Cyber Monday in terms of total holiday ecommerce sales. However, it’s slowly losing ground to pre-Thanksgiving shopping.
According to our survey results, 53% of shoppers who made a purchase during Thanksgiving weekend also bought something the previous week. This is a 12% increase from 2015.
Black Friday shoppers who also made a purchase the previous week
Bizrate Insights Thanksgiving Weekend Flash Survey, December 2019. 14,502 respondents.
Black Friday shoppers still prefer online to in-store
When we asked online shoppers if they made fewer purchases in-store because they bought online instead, 75% of respondents said yes. However, this number has remained steady since at least 2015.
Does this mean that the days of wall-to-wall store crowds on Thanksgiving weekend are going away? While ecommerce has been indisputably disruptive to brick-and-mortar retail, the good news is that physical stores will always play a significant role. Our research shows that 25% of online shoppers still expect to do most of their holiday shopping in-store.
The customer journey over the holiday season is in a continuous state of flux. It is influenced heavily by the retail industry’s ability to get a jump start on holiday promotions and the brand loyalty that retailers can generate. With more customers making purchases earlier in the holiday season, retailers must pay close attention to these shifts in behavior and adapt quickly.
 Source: Bizrate Insights Thanksgiving weekend flash survey, December 2019. 14,293 respondents.