Super Saturday

Super Saturday

Investopedia / Candra Huff

What Is Super Saturday?

Super Saturday, also known as Panic Saturday, is the last Saturday before Christmas, a major revenue-generating day for retailers, and shoppers' traditional last chance for serious gift buying. As such, Super Saturday features big discounts, extended store hours, and, for many retailers, one of the best sales days of the entire year.

Super Saturday 2021 fell on Dec. 18, but historically, will more likely land on Dec. 17, 19, 21, or 23 than other 'near Christmas' dates. Super Saturday is not an official holiday but falls into a group of other widely recognized shopping days such as Black Friday, Small Business Saturday, and Cyber Monday.

Key Takeaways

  • Super Saturday is a shopping day that falls on the last Saturday before Christmas.
  • It's a major revenue day for retailers and a chance for shoppers to get last-minute bargains.
  • In 2019, Super Saturday became the biggest single sales day in U.S. history.
  • Super Saturday is a major revenue source for brick-and-mortar retailers due to the amount of foot traffic it generates.
  • Super Saturday was considered a major force in mitigating depressed Black Friday sales due to COVID in 2020.

Understanding Super Saturday

Unlike other holiday season shopping dates, Super Saturday doesn't appear to have a clear lineage. The use of the term "Super Saturday" can be found as far back as 2007. As for last-minute panic buying just before Christmas, who knows when that began?

The National Retail Federation (NRF) first began tracking sales on Super Saturday in 2016. In 2020 the NRF reported that it expected up to 150 million online and in-store shoppers on Super Saturday. That's second only to the 155.7 million shoppers who showed up on Super Saturday 2016.

In 2019, before COVID entered the scene, Super Saturday beat both Small Business Saturday ($19.6 billion) and Cyber Monday ($9.1 billion) as the first biggest sales day of the year with $34.4 billion in sales. Black Friday came in a close second with $31.2 billion. In fact, Super Saturday 2019 was, and remains, the single biggest sales day in U.S. retail history.

The value of Super Saturday as a mitigating factor for 2020 COVID-related retail losses is spelled out in data from showing that the number of in-store shoppers on Super Saturday 2020 was 18% higher than the number of in-store shoppers on Black Friday. This led experts to suggest that Super Saturday 2020 sales helped mitigate Black Friday losses.

An Online Oasis for Last-Minute Shoppers

When Super Saturday falls early, shoppers have the opportunity to cram in easily shipped stocking stuffers and other last-minute online gifts that somehow got missed earlier. For retailers that plan well, it's a chance to be the hero by providing that item that sold out on Black Friday or Cyber Monday.

Of the 150 million shoppers, representing 62% of all holiday shoppers in 2020, who told the NRF they planned to shop on Super Saturday 2020, 42% said they were going to do it solely online. Super Saturday 2020 was on Dec. 19 and in 2021 was on Dec. 18. It will be on Dec. 17 in 2022.

A Boon To Brick-and-Mortar Retail

More often than not, however, Super Saturday tends to be heavily oriented toward in-store foot traffic. This can boost revenue substantially for brick-and-mortar retailers at the very end of the holiday shopping season. It's worth noting that the conversion rate or percent of visits that translate to sales, is 20% to 40% for in-store traffic, versus 2% to 5% for online sales.

The closer Super Saturday is to Christmas, the less likely shoppers will be to choose an online option for their last-minute shopping since the only way to get their purchases on time would be expensive expedited shipping.

Comparison With Other Holiday Shopping Days

Super Saturday is the last of a string of special shopping days leading up to Christmas. The proximity of these days to each other does not seem to cramp retailers' willingness to invest resources in this final major shopping day of the holiday season.

A comparison of traffic, overall and per customer sales volume for each of the four major holiday shopping periods in 2019, the year before the pandemic, may provide a clue to the enthusiasm retailers have for Super Saturday.

   2019 Traffic 2019 Sales $/Shopper
 Black Friday  177.4 million $31.2 billion  $176
 Small Bus. Saturday  110 million $19.6 billion  $178
 Cyber Monday  105.1 million $9.2 billion  $88
 Super Saturday  147.8 million $34.4 billion $233
  • Sources: National Retail Federation ; RetailWire ; U.S. Small Business Administration ; Adobe Analytics

As the numbers above show, Super Saturday 2019 brought in more overall revenue and more revenue per shopper than Black Friday, Small Business Saturday, or Cyber Monday. It actually brought in more revenue than Small Business Saturday and Cyber Monday combined. In fact, Super Saturday 2019 was the biggest shopping day in U.S. retail history.

For shoppers, Super Saturday is their last chance to fill Christmas stockings and buy that one final gift that will make this the best holiday season ever. For retailers, it's the last chance to ring up those important end-of-the-season sales that can mean the difference between red ink and black ink in the accounting ledger.

What Day Was Super Saturday 2021?

Super Saturday 2021 fell on Dec. 18. The most common days for Super Saturday historically are Dec. 17, 19, or 22.

What Was the Biggest Shopping Day in U.S. History?

Super Saturday, Dec. 21, 2019, was the biggest single shopping day in U.S. history with $34.4 billion in sales.

What Are the Most Popular Shopping Destinations on Super Saturday?

The top five Super Saturday shopping destinations, in order, are discount department stores, department stores, wholesale clubs, electronics stores, and dollar stores.

Article Sources
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  2. Reuters. "Stores Desperately Seeking Shoppers on Super Saturday."

  3. National Retail Federation. "More than 150 Million Plan to Shop on Super Saturday." Accessed Nov. 30, 2021.

  4. American Express. "American Express’ 10th Annual Small Business Saturday Hits a Record High with an Estimated $19.6 Billion in Reported Spending." Accessed Nov. 30, 2021.

  5. RetailWire. "Is Super Saturday Rivaling Black Friday in Importance?" Accessed Nov. 30, 2021.

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  9. National Retail Federation. "Thanksgiving Weekend Draws Nearly 190 Million Shoppers, Spending Up 16 Percent." Accessed Nov. 30, 2021.

  10. U.S. Small Business Administration. "Nearly $20 Billion Spent By Americans This Small Business Saturday." Accessed Nov. 30, 2021.

  11. Adobe Analytics. "Adobe Data Shows Record Cyber Monday with $9.2 Billion in Online Sales." Accessed Nov. 30, 2021.