Holiday shopping is as American as eating turkey and cranberry sauce on the fourth Thursday in November. Black Friday is named for being the day that retailers typically turned a profit for the year (from being “in the red” to “black”), and it is still the biggest shopping day of the year. But things are changing.
The theory goes that holiday shoppers have a budget in mind, so retailers’ strategy is to get them in the door with a blockbuster bargain, and they are more likely to pick up a few more items while they are there. That way, the retailer they choose gets the bigger piece of that shopper’s budgeted amount.
But that hasn’t panned out in the recent past, with Black Friday sales disappointing major retailers. So, first, they have expanded Black Friday by opening early and closing late. And then they started encroaching on Thanksgiving Day itself. Instead of family bonding over football, we could bond with our nearest and dearest over a visit to our local mall or big box retailer.
Except that hasn’t helped things either, with major retailers still getting disappointing results from those tactics. Consider this:
- The list of major retailers who are open on Thanksgiving versus those that are not is about equal.
- Online shopping apps and tools are giving consumers greater transparency into the deals being offered by online and brick-and-mortar retailers at any given time. Analysis has shown that the best deals are offered on the Friday before Thanksgiving!
- The website wallethub has found that 10% of Black Friday deals are recycled from the previous year, and not the once-in-a-lifetime bargains as highlighted in the advertisements. Indeed, WalletHub reports that 81% of consumers agreed with the statement “Black Friday deals are not improving from previous years.”
- While brick-and-mortar sales have been down for the past few years, online sales on Thanksgiving, Black Friday and CyberWeek (the current evolution of Cyber Monday) are increasing. As reported by CNBC citing 2014 results from ComScore, “ecommerce spending rose 32% on Thanksgiving Day to $1.01 billion and had a 26% gain to $1.5 billion on Black Friday.
So does this, as Forbes suggests, sound the “death-knell for Black Friday”? Are we experiencing the imminent demise of that American tradition of joining a frenzy of consumers thronging the aisles after the Thanksgiving feast?
Perhaps. But not this year, or even next year.
Consumers do seem to be tiring of the Black Friday fracas. Trustev conducted a survey and found that 30% of shoppers want nothing to do with Black Friday. (And by the way – it can be dangerous! The same survey found that 31% of shoppers had been involved with or witnessed an altercation while shopping on Black Friday. So apparently those media reports are true.)
While there are still 70% of shoppers saying they will participate in that shopping frenzy, the key to winning Black Friday is for retailers to understand how consumer shopping patterns are shifting. New online shopping and search tools have changed the Black Friday landscape. Now, shoppers search and shop for holiday purchases over a longer time, and much of it is online. As this change continues, and marketers catch on, Black Friday and Cyber Monday will evolve as well.
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