Black Friday and Beyond

Signs continue to point to consumers spreading out their post-Thanksgiving shopping. Our rDialogue crowd was no different. Despite being steeped in retail strategies day-to-day, we still couldn’t resist the hype, the offers and the retail tactics of late November.   

In an informal office survey to gauge participation in Black Friday, Cyber Monday, and everything in between, here’s where our Black Friday data panned out:  

  • 25% shopped on Thursday  
  • 38% shopped on Black Friday
  • 50% shopped online at some point between Thursday and Monday
  • 63% made a purchase between Thursday and Monday

Some trends we noticed this year that stood out from the typical post-Thanksgiving retail shopping events:

  • Black Friday is longer than Friday, starting earlier and extending long through the weekend (and in some cases longer) changing the way we look at Black Friday data in general.  Several retailers moved their opening to late Thursday night instead of early Friday morning to expand the shopping window, with outrage from some, but plenty of consumers willing to participate.   
  • Similarly, Cyber Monday isn’t just for Monday anymore.  Many retailers, including Amazon and Target, are promoting Cyber Weeks.  Costco is running a promotion for the “24 Days of Christmas”, unlocking one deal a day until December 19th
  • Several retailers (including Best Buy and Dick’s Sporting Goods) made Black Friday deals, previously available in-store only, available online. Retailers forced to cater to all channels have moved beyond deals in-store only deals, although this is still the priority channel.  Online sales on Cyber Monday were up 30%, compared with last year’s 33% rise. Our rDialogue crowd was no different, with many opting to shop online.  Online sales topped $1B on Black Friday for the first time, an interesting Black Friday data point.
  • Free shipping for online purchases has become table stakes, with some retailers offering free returns as well.  With free shipping now an expectation, retailers will have to get creative to find ways to deliver added value while maintaining a healthy margin
  • Loyalty programs focused on offers layered on top of offers.  Retail sales are up but it leads to the question, how profitable are these sales?  How much were the offers offense versus defense?

Within our office, like our informal survey might suggest, we want choice; and we’ll choose shopping online over getting face-to-face with this!  However, despite every year hearing stories of in-store fights and not-so-pleasant shopping experiences on Black Friday, (sometimes involving weapons!), consumers still come back to shop.  Coming out of the recession, retailers are hoping for big things this holiday season, in-store and online, Black Friday and beyond.  It’s off to a good start.

What was your shopping experience like?  What stood out for you?  Let us know in the comments below.