The 2021 end-of-year holiday season is in the home stretch as we look back on two of the busiest days for retailers: Black Friday and Cyber Monday. For a closer look at what retailers did online over that period, we reviewed 75 retailer and brand home pages, spanning several product categories. Among other highlights, we found that:

  • Overall, sales events at retailers were not as expansive as expected. Much like last year, over 90% of the 75 retailer sites we reviewed had some form of promotion. However, fewer than half offered sitewide discounts, and even fewer offered free shipping with no minimum purchase (Figure 1). Category-specific and product-specific discounts were by far the most popular promotion. Based on the 29 retailers that included free shipping with a purchase minimum, the average threshold purchase amount hovered around $49.
  • Fashion, home, and beauty retailers were among the most engaged in the Black Friday frenzy. Thirty of 33 fashion retailers, 12 of 13 home goods retailers (including furniture, décor, and home improvement), and all 10 health and beauty retailers ran some form of promotion (Figures 2 and 3). Of the fashion and beauty retailer and brand sites we reviewed, approximately half offered sitewide discounts for Black Friday and Cyber Monday.
  • Department store discounts were lacking. All department stores had discounts specific to categories, brands, or products. However, none offered sitewide discounts, and only one offered free shipping as a special promotion.

Figure 1: Black Friday And Cyber Monday Promotional Breakdown


Figure 2: Black Friday Promotions By Product Category


Figure 3: Cyber Monday Promotions By Product Category



Now in the full swing of the end-of-year holiday shopping season, stay tuned for our 2021 Online Retail Holiday Forecast, and, for more insights, follow Forrester’s holiday 2021 blog series. Please let me know if you have any questions — Forrester clients, my fellow analysts and I are happy to speak with you via inquiry. Wishing you a very successful end-of-year holiday season!

(Cowritten with Taylor Hansen, Research Associate; updated as of December 10, 2021)