If you were at home or on your smartphone carefully searching for deals on Black Friday this year, you were not alone. According to the NRF, Black Friday set a record for mobile sales – a whopping $1.2 billion, up 33% from last year.
While many analysts have pointed out that Black Friday sales start long before the actual Friday, and Cyber Monday has turned into a week-long event for many retailers, US Thanksgiving weekend continues to mark “the” start to the Holiday shopping period.
This year, 154 million consumers shopped over the long holiday weekend, an increase of 3 million from last year. Overall spending grew from last year, with Black Friday sales sitting at $3.34 billion, up 21.6% from last year, and the holiday weekend netting $5.27 billion which is an increase of 17.7% from 2016. And Cyber Monday set a record for the biggest day in US ecommerce sales with $3.45 billion in transactions, a 12% increase from last year.
Yet, as NRF President and CEO Matthew Shay stated, while this was a good weekend for retailers, it was an even better one for consumers. Deep discounts, many of which started well in advance of Black Friday – some weeks early – allowed consumers to be more selective about their purchases. Overall, average orders were down $10 (from $300 to $290) from last year and a full 33% of buyers said they only bought merchandise on sale.
Similar trends from last year were seen again this year, but with the scale ever rising. Online continued to surpass instore sales – 44% coming from those who chose to avoid the stores.
For those who did hit the stores, most of us didn’t do so at the crack of dawn – 29% of us strolled in after 10am when the super discounted gate crashing items would be long gone. Some stores did still see the early morning line up; 16,000 people stood in line for over an hour outside of Macy’s in New York.
More importantly, what did retailers learn from last year and what can still be done in the weeks until Christmas? Many retailers ensured they were not caught off guard this year with the mobile push, and invested in improved mobile shopping apps. Overall email volume was up by 56% but with various degrees of location, preference and purchase behavior applied to drive personalized messaging, retailers hoped to reduce plummeting open rates as inboxes overflowed.
Thanksgiving and Black Friday may mark the single biggest period of shopping but holidays spending is not over – not by a longshot.
“With mid-season shopping behind us, it’s not too late for retailers to tweak their online and in-store strategies to help increase traffic and see a big payoff during the last few weeks of the holiday season,”
Only 9% of US shoppers can cross everything off their Christmas shopping list and 23% have not yet even begun shopping yet, an increase of 4% over last year.
It’s not too late for retailers and brands to tweak their strategies – personalized messaging, offers using location and up-to-the-minute browse and purchase behavior, content that resonates for different personas, reaching out to new customers and re-engaging with lapsed ones and of course, making shopping on mobile devices easy and straightforward. Christmas 2016 is looking to smash even more records.
Robyn Croll is Director of Customer Insights at SmartFocus and a contributor to ClickZ
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