While some retailers — like REI, Patagonia, Dillards and Staples — garnered recent attention by announcing they’d shut down over the Thanksgiving holiday, Black Friday remains one of the biggest shopping days of the year in the U.S. In fact, the National Retail Federation (NRF) found that more than 151 million people shopped in stores and/or online over Thanksgiving weekend this year.
The Future of Black Friday
While Black Friday clearly isn’t going anywhere, it’s certainly evolving. Of the more than 151 million people that shopped over the holiday weekend, more than 103 million opted to skip the crowds and shop online this year. Consumers spent an estimated $4.45 billion online on Thursday and Friday, with Black Friday weekend sales up 14 percent from last year, according to Adobe Systems Inc. It’s possible that slower in-store sales are a result of Black Friday fatigue, given the slew of sales and promotions offered well ahead of the holiday (for instance, Target offered 10 days of deals before Thanksgiving this year). And some say there’s a stigma emerging around those who forgo spending time with their families over the holiday for Black Friday shopping mania (take REI’s #OptOutside campaign, for example).
In-Store vs. Online Shopping
But there’s also a broader, cultural shift happening, with shoppers increasingly prioritizing the convenience of online shopping over infinite deals and deep discounts. Mobile shopping accounted for well over a third of all online shopping on Black Friday this year, according to ecommerce analytics firm Custora. And IBM found that, for the first time, the average order value made on a tablet ($136.42) exceeded that of desktops. In fact, mobile shoppers spent an average of $121.06 per order this Black Friday, an increase of 4.3 percent since last year. Mobile shoppers made waves on Cyber Monday this year, too, with Walmart.com reporting 70 percent of Monday’s traffic coming from smartphones and tablets. And Walmart is not alone. On what analysts are calling a “record breaking” Cyber Monday, mobile was the star. Adobe’s Tamara Gaffney told USA Today, “Most of our predictions have been spot-on, but mobile surprised us. It’s much higher than we‘ve ever seen.”
Black Friday Trends: Takeaways for Multichannel Retailers
The results from this year’s Black Friday and Cyber Monday are clear: ecommerce and mobile shopping continue to rise while in-store purchases slowly decline. Consumers want to shop when they want and how they want, and the ease of online shopping through mobile devices, in particular, allows consumers to research what they want and make instant purchases at any time. This is great news for both consumers and retailers, however it underscores the importance of having strong, shoppable experiences across online channels. Retailers only have a few seconds to capture consumers’ attention and engage with them, and as a result, competition amongst online retailers is fierce. In order to survive in the current retail landscape and thrive in Black Fridays to come, it’s never been more important to provide intuitive, digital shopping experiences and prioritize highly actionable, shoppable content.