In the 1970s, the Friday after Thanksgiving became a regional shopping event known as Black Friday. More than 40 years later, Black Friday is one of the most well-known shopping days in the United States. Shoppers line up hours before stores open in order to take advantage of deep discounts, offers and promotions. Last year, headlines touted everything from “killer deals” on electronics to car sales “exploding” on Black Friday. But, this year, the headlines are different. REI announced that it will keep its stores closed on Thanksgiving and Black Friday — a first for the company. And many retailers started their sales as early as last week! Why wait until Cyber Monday? This year, it looks like online deals will be happening all week long. In fact, Amazon is upping the ante with its week of Black Friday bargains – with new deals happening every five minutes! BJ’s is offering 10 days of Black Friday deals. Is this the death of Black Friday? Probably not, but Forrester Research reports a growing disenchantment with Black Friday, while Cyber Monday seems to be gaining popularity. In our opinion, there are a few factors involved:
  • During the 2015 holiday shopping season, holiday sales are forecast to reach $885.70 billion. But with the creation of other shopping events like Cyber Monday, Small Business Saturday, Free Shipping Day and Super Saturday, Black Friday sales dropped 11 percent last year (source: National Retail Federation). Certainly, the addition of these other deal days means Black Friday has to share the spotlight, as shoppers wait longer for better deals as the holidays get closer.
  • eCommerce also provides a convenience factor that stores cannot compete with – especially when it means standing in long lines, in the cold, fighting with strangers for that one piece of merchandise your child really, really wants. Retailers are making it more enticing to purchase that toy/game/electronic/etc. right from the comfort of your own home – at Black Friday prices!
  • This holiday season, Deloitte projects online returns will exceed 30 percent of all purchases. For many retailers, parcel returns have become easier than ever before thanks to their investment in returns management solutions. That’s critical, as 85 percent of customers will not do repeat business with a company if returns are complicated or inconvenient. When consumers understand how easy it is to process an online return, they are much more likely to purchase that item online rather than in store. We anticipate that retailers that offer easy returns options for eCommerce purchases will see more sales on Black Friday, a “holiday” typically associated with spikes in store sales.
We fully expect to see less shoppers in stores on Black Friday this year and more shopping from laptops, tablets and smartphones (while recovering from their Tryptophan-induced hangovers). We’re looking forward to seeing the results next week. Stay tuned for our upcoming post recapping Black Friday and Cyber Monday numbers.