Black Friday: The Aftermath
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Black Friday: The Aftermath

December 1, 2015

Dave Mason

A look at Black Friday consumer trends, and how retailers can accommodate shifting preferences for the 2016 holiday season.

Where were YOU on Black Friday?

Last Thursday, as the Thanksgiving “dooms day” clock slowly crept closer and closer to midnight, millions of shoppers across the country were waiting in lines outside of stores and loading up retailer sites on Internet browsers. According to the National Retail Federation, more than 151 million consumers shopped either online and/or in store over the holiday weekend – all of them looking for a bargain.

In the wake of yet another Black Friday, let’s take a quick look at how holiday shopping trends are beginning to net out.

According to data released by the Adobe Digital Index, 2015 Black Friday weekend showed a massive jump in online shopping, specifically using mobile devices. This year, e-commerce sales for Thursday and Friday brought in $4.45 billion, with smartphones accounting for an all-time high of $1.5 billion across both days. Smartphones and tablets were, in fact, responsible for 57% of online shopping visits on Thanksgiving and 53% of online shopping visits on Black Friday, exceeding desktop shopping visits for the first time ever.

“Retailers should be prepared to accommodate for an influx in digital shopping.”

In addition to a surge in online and mobile shopping, there was also an influx of holiday shoppers looking to make their purchases on Thanksgiving Day, prior to Black Friday. Business Wire and Adobe Index report an increase of 14% in e-commerce holiday shopping for Friday and a surprising 25% increase for Thursday.

Despite this bump in online sales on both Thanksgiving and Black Friday, in-store shopping has fallen dramatically. As reported by Market Watch, brick and mortar holiday purchases from November 26 through November 29 dropped by 10.4%. The Guardian and ShopperTrak reported an estimated loss of $1.2 billion on Black Friday alone.

To accommodate for these dramatic shifts in consumer behavior, campaigns should be specifically designed to bolster online sales with an emphasis on “early bird” email marketing to drive online traffic and pre-holiday weekend purchasing. This year email promotions, many of which started weeks prior to the holiday weekend, brought in 25% more sales than in 2014. As stated by Matthew Shay, CEO of the National Retail Federation, “Black Friday weekend has evolved tremendously over the past few years and can no longer be seen as the ‘start’ of the holiday season.” In fact, the NRF reports that “nearly 60 % of holiday shoppers had already started checking items off their lists” prior to Thanksgiving.

Once strategic marketing plans have been developed, retailers should also be prepared to accommodate for this influx in digital shopping. This year, Target released a statement saying that Cyber Monday traffic was TWICE as high as their busiest day ever. AdWeek reported both Target and PayPal experiencing “internet shutdowns” due to an extremely high volume of web traffic, which likely had an effect on revenue.

With brick and mortar sales down, and online and mobile shopping on the rise, marketers need to account for these shifts in consumer behavior as they begin to develop their plans for 2016.  With so much on the line, retailers and marketers cannot afford to lose sight of the goal – understand your consumer, and create strategies that meet their needs.

Dave Mason

Digital Research Operations Lead

Dave is a digital media expert who is passionate about the disruptive impacts of new technology. With a background in both emerging social media and qualitative research, Dave is always in the know...

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