Black Friday Isn’t Dead, but Cyber Monday Could Steal its Thunder

Black Friday vs. Cyber Monday

Black Friday is losing its charm. Consumers are less interested in waking up before the sun to battle parking lots full of sleepy shoppers to stand in long lines for a TV that might not even have the features they want.

But retailers aren’t having a fit about this, instead they’re spending more time at the drawing board. In years past, shoppers camped out on Black Friday for in-store doorbusters. Then many big box retailers started opening on Thanksgiving evening (Black Thursday, anyone?).

This year things went down a little differently; some retailers announced they would be closed on Thanksgiving and REI even announced they would be closed on Black Friday. The lead up to the holiday season has become a bit polarized. There are the Best Buys that open at 5 pm when some people haven’t even carved their turkeys yet and the REIs that decisively tell shoppers to be active outdoors instead.

What do shoppers think of all of this? They might not quite be on REI’s level just yet, but they could be moving away from the in-store doorbusters of years past. Deloitte data points to the fact that 52% of shoppers don’t rely on Black Friday like they have previously. That same stat for Cyber Monday is a bit lower at 41%, and it’s a little telling in my opinion.

Holiday Sales: 2 Game Changers

There are two things that will be game changers this holiday season to make up for the waning excitement for specific shopping days. First, the longer holiday season will benefit retailers by spreading out purchases and giving them the opportunity to bring in different customer segments with targeted promotions and competitive pricing. Second, online deals have to pick up the slack, on Black Friday as well as Cyber Monday.  

Consumers want their shopping experience to be as easy as possible and sitting at home on the couch is much better than putting on winter gear, jumping in the car, and waiting in line. While Black Friday still packs a punch for many retailers, making it the highest grossing day of the year for 41% of US retailers, Cyber Monday is gaining appeal.

I’ll be honest, last year I did a little shopping online on Thanksgiving. Why? Well there were great site-wide deals and hopping onto the website was much easier than going to a store. The convenience factor of online shopping will be the holiday season’s saving grace. The National Retail Federation casually projected that overall retail growth would be down this year (3.7% this year versus 4.1% in 2014). In addition, Forrester estimates that online sales will rise to 14% of total holiday sales.

Regardless, it’s time for retailers to really make use of their online channels to get shoppers to check out this holiday season. Shoppers want convenience and multiple opportunities to save. That’s a bit counterintuitive because limited time offers are very effective in retail, but it’s a matter of presenting shoppers with more than one appealing offer to sway them. The retailers that provide great online experiences and promotions will be able to get the most out of the holiday frenzy.