For many Americans, Black Friday represents an opportunity to score unbeatable bargains. It has also become a tradition, as much a part of the holiday season as watching "It’s A Wonderful Life." Whether motivated by doorbusters or time-honored observance, 44 percent of American adults—an estimated 76 million people—will shop in stores or online this Friday, according to the second Consumer Report Holiday Poll of 2016.

Over the years, Black Friday has slowly lost its luster as a seminal sales event. The decline started when the holiday shopping season began to expand, a phenomenon referred to as "Christmas creep." Many merchants have been providing holiday discounts much earlier in the cycle—think of Amazon’s Christmas in July promotion—so consumers need not wait until the day, or weekend, after Thanksgiving for bargains. The steady surge in online shopping, with its nonstop barrage of deals and discounts, has further eroded the Black Friday mystique. Credit more generous price-matching policies, too. In fact, more than half of consumers surveyed recently by the consultancy Deloitte said that they don’t rely on Black Friday as much as they used to.

Among those surveyed by Consumer Reports, 27 percent said they plan to shop at brick-and-mortar stores on Black Friday, down from 31 percent last year. Another 27 percent said they plan to shop online, up from 24 percent last year. As a group, millennials are the most enthusiastic: 59 percent said they plan to be part of the madness. By contrast only 38 percent of baby boomers expect to participate.

For many, Black Friday elicits strong feelings one way or the other. Fifty-seven percent refuse to shop on that day, saying it’s nothing but hype and a hassle. Conversely, 9 percent love it precisely because of the terrific bargains. In general, most respondents were pleased with the substance of the sales and promotions. Fifty-three percent of those surveyed said last year’s deals lived up to their expectations; 43 percent said they didn’t.


Go to Consumer Reports' 2016 Holiday Gift Guide for updates on deals, expert product reviews, insider tips on shopping, and much more. Be sure to check our Daily Gift Guide, and sign up to get an e-newsletter with top picks, trusted product reviews, and the latest news from Consumer Reports.
 

What Do Shoppers Plan to Buy on Black Friday?

Seventy-one percent said clothing. Other popular categories include:

• Small personal electronic devices like a tablet or smartphone (42 percent).

• Major electronic products like a TV or computer (39 percent).

• A video game console or games (35 percent).

Small home appliances like a stand mixer or blender (26 percent).

Jewelry (24 percent).

• Major home appliances like a dishwasher or washing machine (10 percent).

If you opt to avoid Black Friday, there’s always Cyber Monday three days later. Cyber Monday, a term coined by Shop.org, the digital division of the National Retail Federation, was launched to pump up the online holiday shopping season. And like Black Friday, Cyber Monday features an array of super sales.

To keep on top of thousands of offers from hundreds of retailers, check out CyberMonday.com. According to our survey, 32 percent of Americans plan to shop on the Monday after Thanksgiving—virtually unchanged from the 33 percent who did so last year.


Holiday Poll Methodology: The Consumer Reports National Research Center designed a survey to explore general sentiment and shopping behaviors for the upcoming 2016 winter holiday season. In October and November 2016, ORC International administered the phone survey to a nationally representative sample of over 2000 randomly selected adult U.S. residents; 84 percent will be shopping this holiday season. The data were statistically weighted so that respondents in the survey were demographically and geographically representative of the U.S. population. The margin of error for holiday shoppers is +/- 2.4 percent at the 95 percent confidence level. Fifty-three percent of the sample was female, and the median age was 44 years old.