The headlines from this year’s Black Friday are varied. On one hand, sales figures were down for the first time in four years, which doesn’t bode well for overall holiday shopping sales figures. On the other hand, online spending was up 15 percent for the weekend, accounting for $1.2 billion in sales, and up 21 percent on Cyber Monday. Mobile devices were responsible for an incredible 32 percent of all Cyber Monday sales, an increase of 45 percent over 2012. But with holiday shopping starting earlier and earlier every year, with many more stores opening on Thanksgiving this year, the big question is how well this tactic is working for retailers trying to lure buyers into their stores, and how online shopping impacts in-store sales. In this edition of Retail Rap, I look closely at this year’s Black Friday figures and discuss what they mean for the remainder of the holiday shopping season.
Has this shopping window expansion worked? Has it actually increased sales? Well, at first glance, the results would seem to be encouraging: the National Retail Foundation estimates that the number of shoppers was up during the four-day weekend (up 1.2% from 2012, reaching a total of 141 million shoppers). My own anecdotal observations seemed to support that, as traffic was quite heavy during the peak periods. But the longer the event, the more non-peak periods there are, and, while Black Friday foot traffic was great, sales were still underwhelming, and both numbers dropped off significantly through the rest of the weekend. Mirroring the Black Friday creep, the ongoing evolution of Cyber Monday into a “cyber week” of promotions meant that Cyber Monday itself saw a drop-off from last year’s numbers — even while overall online and mobile sales were up dramatically overall. I can’t help but think that shopper fatigue is a big factor here.
Check out the full article from my recurring column, Retail Rap, at Chain Store Age.