By Leigh Buehler-Rappold, Ed.D.
Faculty Member, School of Business, American Public University
The holiday season is in full swing, and nothing says “Christmas time” in the retail world like Black Friday. Traditionally, Black Friday is the day when retailers make up for lagging sales during the year in one day to move annual sales into the black.
But with the advancement of ecommerce in recent years, retailers now stretch the Black Friday consumer excitement into four days with the recently established Cyber Monday. Cyber Monday allows retailers to capture sales electronically from customers who may not enjoy going to stores on Black Friday but still want to find amazing deals.
Online Shopping Growing in Popularity
Online shopping increases every year. By addressing the ecommerce market, retailers reach more consumers and provide customers with exciting online deals that last (usually) one day.
This season, mobile shopping via customers’ smartphones and tablets equaled the number of online users. According to the National Retail Federation (NRF), mobile sales totaled 25% of this year’s shoppers with 11% of those sales coming from tablet owners.
Shopping Trends Vary at Brick-and-Mortar Stores During Black Friday
Black Friday retailers held off on early-release deals this year. Consumers had to wait until it truly was Black Friday to grab great bargains.
Several mall-based retailers, like Banana Republic and Chico’s, did not do well on Black Friday, while other stores like Wal-Mart, Foot Locker and Victoria’s Secret generated a high amount of foot traffic. Almost 29% of Black Friday shoppers went out after 10 a.m., an increase from 24% over last year’s numbers, while fewer than 15% of shoppers arrived at stores before 6 a.m. on Black Friday.
The early shopping trend on Thanksgiving Day saw a steep 19% decrease in customers who went to stores before 5 p.m. NRF’s survey found that 51% of shoppers went to department stores while 34% went to discount stores.
Cyber Monday Sales Defeat Black Friday Profits
Cyber Monday was a formidable competitor to Black Friday in 2016 with sales topping $3.45 billion. That amount was up 12% from online sales last year and bested Black Friday sales by almost $110 million.
Toymakers Lego, Shopkins, Mattel and Hasbro were the top winners of Cyber Monday while Sony PlayStation 4, Samsung 4K TVs, Apple iPhones, Microsoft Xbox and Amazon Fire led the way for electronic gifts. Wal-Mart reported online record visits during the four-day shopping weekend.
Some Companies Opt Out of Black Friday and Cyber Monday Deals
However, not all retailers take part in the Black Friday and Cyber Monday hoopla. Some smaller businesses, like STARTplanner and Business in Blue Jeans, explained in blog updates why they do not participate in Black Friday weekend deals.
STARTplanner is a Georgia business that makes customized organizers for planning daily schedules. Its website stated, “we believe in charging a fair price for a product….and we don’t play around with marking them up so we can offer discounts later.” The letter to customers was direct but written well to make any lover of a STARTplanner understand the company position.
Business in Blue Jeans, an Indiana-based management consultant company, addressed its small business clients in a similar manner. The company explained that offering discounted services during the Thanksgiving weekend would “suggest that the rest of the year, we’re charging more than we really have to – which is definitely not the case.”
Will 2017 see a new trend of small businesses and entrepreneurs opting out of offering discounts on a day that is quickly becoming known as “Small Business Saturday”? I guess we will have to wait until next Turkey Day to find out.
About the Author
Leigh Buehler-Rappold is a faculty member who teaches retail management courses at American Public University. She is also a course consultant, social media specialist and curriculum design team leader. Her academic credentials include a B.A. in history and sociology from Texas A&M University, an MBA in business administration from the University of Phoenix, a master’s degree in American history and a doctor of education from Northeastern University.
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