Discretionary general merchandise retail sales revenue fell below 2019 levels for the first time this year

Port Washington, N.Y., December 2, 2022 – Black Friday week marked the sixth consecutive week of in-store sales revenue declines for U.S. discretionary general merchandise. During the week ending November 26, 2022, spanning Thanksgiving, Black Friday, and Small Business Saturday, sales revenue was 5% lower than during the same week in 2021, while unit sales were down 8%, according to U.S. retailer point-of-sale information collected by The NPD Group. Total November 2022 general merchandise retail sales revenue was 8% lower than it was in 2021.

“Black Friday appears to have brought more shoppers out to the stores, but that traffic clearly didn’t amount to more spending,” said Marshal Cohen, chief retail industry advisor for NPD. “Retailers and manufacturers need to find new ways to engage the consumer in making purchases, converting consumers from social browsers to active buyers.” 

The 2022 Black Friday week underperformed compared to the past three years, only exceeding the sales revenue results during the same week in 2020 during the first year of the pandemic. This week was also the first time this year that discretionary general merchandise retail sales revenue fell below pre-pandemic 2019 levels (down 9%). Beauty was the only industry tracked by NPD where revenue and unit sales both increased during Black Friday week compared to each of the three previous years. Even the typically heavy-selling Black Friday industries, like technology, toys, and apparel, fell short of last year’s sales performance.

“Compounding the economic pressures on consumers, the absence of new product in the market is a huge challenge for retailers right now,” Cohen said. “The good news is that the traffic is there, which opens the door for impulse purchases and some self-gifting — if the consumer can be persuaded.”

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