Holiday Shopping Is Hard — Our Data Can Help

Sarah Conlisk - Nov 9, 2023
Black Friday Data Story

Black Friday Trends

Dedicated shoppers have been girding themselves for November 24, the busiest shopping day of the year. The day-after-Thanksgiving extravaganza is marked by long lines, elusive deals, and retail anxiety. That’s why we put together a guide, based on Lyft data, to help you shop like a pro — and have a leg up on your deal-hunting competition. 

Last year, the top Black Friday destination (by far) was Best Buy, followed by Macy’s and Burlington. Notable mentions also go to Nike, Kohl’s, Bath & Body Works, GameStop, JCPenney, Old Navy, and Forever 21.

Black Friday Figure 01
The plot shows the number of rides on Black Friday (X-axis) against the percentage of that store’s annual rides that occurred on Black Friday (Y-axis), in 2022.

With so much traffic to these locations, you probably want to beat the crowds to ensure you can get the best deals. How early do you need to show up? It depends on the store. Below, we plot the distribution of arrival times for the top 10 Black Friday stores in our data. Best Buy is earliest, with a quarter of all rides occurring before 5:45 a.m. JCPenney shoppers are only 15 minutes behind, with 25% showing up before 6 a.m. Meanwhile, it looks like Forever 21 shoppers can sleep in — as long as you get there before 8 a.m., you will beat the masses!

Black Friday Figure 02
The plot shows the density of drop-off times for popular stores on Black Friday 2022. The time that a store has already received 25% of its drop-offs is shown in black.

Where do people get up earliest on Black Friday? Louisiana, with 25% of all rides that day occurring before 7:30 a.m. You go, Pelican State: The early bird gets the flat-screen!

On the topic of states — where are shoppers most active on Black Friday? South Dakota, New Hampshire, and Mississippi are most likely to get ahead of their holiday shopping, while California and Tennessee seem to opt out — maybe they’re spending the day eating leftovers instead.

Black Friday Figure 03
The map shows the share of all shopping that occurs on Black Friday, in 2022, by state.

Procrastinator Spotlight

So much for early shopping, now to the last-minute scramblers. The Procrastination Matrix below identifies the cities most likely to put off their shopping as long as possible, by considering last-minute grocery shoppers on Thanksgiving (X-axis) and last-minute gift shoppers on Christmas Eve (Y-axis). 

Bostonians are the most likely to be prepared for Turkey Day, while Los Angeles is most likely to scramble for cranberries. Meanwhile, Angelenos are most likely to knock off their Christmas shopping early, while New Yorkers are most likely to wait until the night before.

Black Friday Figure 04
The figure plots cities by the share of grocery shopping before Thanksgiving 2022 that occurred on Thanksgiving Day (X-axis) and the share of shopping before Christmas 2022 that occurred on Christmas Eve.

Another tip for late shoppers: Stay clear of the afternoon of December 23 from 2 to 5 p.m., the most popular hours for shopping in the entire month.

Black Friday Figure 05
The figure plots the density of rides to/from holiday shopping by hour, in the days leading up to Christmas 2022.