Spending on Black Friday has fallen over the last three years since its peak in 2012 as you can see by the following graph from the New York Times:
Fortunately for retailers, it’s not because consumers aren’t spending money. In fact, overall consumer spending has steadily increased over the last few years.1 Instead, there are two main reasons Black Friday sales are going down.
First, fewer people want to enter brick & mortar stores on Black Friday, for obvious reasons, so they moved their money online.2 According to this article by PracticalEcommerce, Black Friday sales in brick & mortar stores fell by 10% from last year whereas online sales on Black Friday were up 14.3% over 2014. On top of that, Cyber Monday sales this year were 16% higher than Cyber Monday Sales last year.
Second, retailers have tried to up the competition by offering deals in-store and online earlier in the month of November. For example, this year Target offered deals ten days leading up to Black Friday. Walmart also announced that new online deals would hit its website each day in November.3 Although consumers responded positively to these early deals (see graph below), online-only retailers are catching on to this trend and taking advantage of the fact that they can offer better deals over the entire month (this year Amazon offered deals all throughout the month of November).
So what does that mean for retailers on Black Friday? Well, it means retailers will have to shift their Black Friday strategy and focus more on Ecommerce and try to cut into Amazon’s dominating Black Friday presence (This year, Amazon accounted for 35.7% of online sales on Black Friday; Best Buy was second with 8.23%.4). In order to do so, we suggest they focus on three things to help ensure retail success.
First, they need to focus on mobile spending. The same article quoted above by PracticalEcommerce provided the following statistic: “Smartphones generated 22 percent of online [Black Friday] sales [in 2015], 70 percent more than in 2014.”5 Therefore, all retailers need to compel shoppers to visit their sites by offering great online deals and an amazing shopping experience on smartphones and tablets.
Second, they need to make sure their customers can get what they want online. This year, “thirteen out of every 100 product views resulted in an out-of-stock message — twice the normal rate.”5 It’s important that retailers can manage their inventory not only in store but also online.
Finally, they need to shift some of their ad spend to online media. As more people are shopping online, traditional TV advertising is becoming less effective. According to this article by the Wall Street Journal, WalMart “spent $57 million on TV advertising spending, the most of any of the retailers, but it translated into the least amount spent per visitor over the four-day Thanksgiving weekend.” At the same time, Amazon who started spending on search advertising two months before Black Friday, garnered the most search views that week and saw the most success via online expenditure on Black Friday.6
We don’t suggest retailers shift 100% of their focus online on Black Friday. However, a significant portion of Black Friday sales are both moving earlier and moving online. Therefore, if retailers can’t provide a great online shopping experience, they will fail to catch up to major online retailers.
1 “United States Consumer Spending.” Tradingeconomics.com. Trading Economics, 2015. Web. 26 Dec. 2015. <http://www.tradingeconomics.com/united-states/consumer-spending>.
2 Tabuchi, Hiroko, and Nelson. “Black Friday Falters as Consumer Behaviors Change.” The New York Times. The New York Times, 25 Nov. 2015. Web. 26 Dec. 2015. <http://www.nytimes.com/2015/11/26/business/black-friday-falters-as-consumer-behaviors-change.html>.
3 Tuttle, Brad. “Why Black Friday and Cyber Monday Are Pretty Much Meaningless Now.” Time. Time, 24 Nov. 2015. Web. 26 Dec. 2015. <http://time.com/money/4124967/black-friday-cyber-monday-deals-2015/>.
4 Roof, Katie. “Amazon Dominated 36% of Online Black Friday Sales, Says Slice.” TechCrunch. TechCrunch, 1 Dec. 2015. Web. 26 Dec. 2015. <http://techcrunch.com/2015/12/01/amazon-dominated-36-of-online-black-friday-sales-says-slice/ – .jk1ikla:x1ty>.
5 Kaplan, Marcia. “Sales Report: 2015 Thanksgiving Day, Black Friday, Cyber Monday.” PracticalEcommerce. PracticalEcommerce, 2 Dec. 2015. Web. 26 Dec. 2015. <http://www.practicalecommerce.com/articles/94777-Sales-Report-2015-Thanksgiving-Day-Black-Friday-Cyber-Monday>.
6 Maple, Tracy. “Paid Ad Spending for Black Friday Is Already Red-hot.” InternetRetailer. InternetRetailer, 7 Oct. 2015. Web. 26 Dec. 2015. <https://www.internetretailer.com/2015/10/07/paid-ad-spending-black-friday-already-red-hot>.