In the early 2000s, Black Friday became a retail phenomenon. Eager discount-hunters would wake at 1am the morning after Thanksgiving and drive to local malls and shopping centers to jump on deep holiday discounts. Throngs of shoppers would take stores by storm and it would even get violent at times. As of 2010, the Black Friday chaos appears to have peaked, with sales inching slightly above last year’s. Retailers jumped the gun with doorbuster discounts in early November, and as important, online commerce is becoming increasingly popular for shoppers not too keen on the early morning holiday shopping free-for-all.
Consumers are shifting their holiday dollars from bricks to clicks, as retail spending rose by a mere 0.3 percent, to $10.69 billion, compared to a 16 percent sales spike for online stores, according to online shopping researcher Coremetrics. “The season’s off to a great start,” said John Squire, Coremetrics vice president of strategy to AP. “It really shows really strong consumer sentiment for buying and for going online.” The average online order rose 12 percent from $170.19 to $190.80 since last year. In fact, PayPal’s sales rose 27 percent in payment volume on Black Friday compared to last year.
For many shoppers, shopping online for Black Friday makes more sense. Avoiding the ludicrously early shopping hours, crowds, comparing prices to get the best deal, and discounts that parallel store doorbuster are just a few ways online shopping is easier for consumers. “The American shopper has adapted to the economic climate over the last couple of years and is possibly spending more wisely as the holiday season begins,” ShopperTrak founder Bill Martin said. The point of Black Friday is finding deep discounts to save money, and with a consumer that has recently weathered the harsh economic environment of the recession, they are taking their shopping savvy to the web.
For the past several years, consumer bought products in-store on the Friday after Thanksgiving and went online on Cyber Monday as they returned to work. Some retailers are projecting sales to double Cyber Monday by offering deals, from free shipping offers to hourly specials. Digitally savvy consumers and online discounts comparable to in-store deals, are changing the holiday shopping behavior. It’s actually becoming more convoluted and more of a mashup between Black Friday and Cyber Monday — neither day defining a mode of shopping. Retailers are embracing Black Friday and Cyber Monday as peak shopping days that could make or break their holiday sales goals.
Image by Morgan Akens from Stock.Xchng