Black Friday: Retail Moves and Trends

By our Shop+ team

Background:

Black Friday is regarded as the start of the holiday shopping season but deals and promotions are being unveiled earlier every year. So you don’t miss out, we’ve rounded up the best of the innovations for you. It’s quite a haul!

Details and Implications:

The US National Retail Federation expects 2018 retail sales to increase 4.5% over 2017’s total spend of $717.5 billion due to increased consumer confidence. Shoppers in the US are optimistic and planning to spend across all categories apparently.

In the UK, Black Friday is now the country’s biggest digital shopping event with shoppers bargain hunting on their phones or laptops at home rather than queuing up outside shops in the early hours. Retail analysts GlobalData said Britons were expected to spend £10.4bn ($13.4bn) during Black Friday sales, 3.1% more than 2017. However, some chains, including M&S, have turned their back on Black Friday as it increases pressure to cut into margins at a key moment for the retail industry.

Salesforce makes five predictions for Black Friday after analysing survey data from 500 million shoppers worldwide: 1. More purchases will be made on a mobile device than any other device; 2. AI-based product recommendations will account for 35% of total revenue; 3. ‘Cyber Week’ – the week following Thanksgiving in the US that includes both Black Friday and Cyber Monday – will account for 40% of the holiday sales; 4. Instagram shopping will grow 3x faster than overall social traffic and 5. Discounts and free shipping will dictate the course of Cyber Week, but not the rest of the holiday shopping season.

A PwC survey found that physical retail is still strong in the US, with 91% of consumers planning to shop at physical locations during the holidays. However, 75% of consumers expect an integrated experience across digital and physical locations. To meet those expectations, retailers are planning to create consumer-centric experiences across the board, which impact digital/brick-and-mortar integration, staffing and checkout processes.

Walmart started offering deals for customers last Thursday and will offer Black Friday deals at 10pm EST online on Thanksgiving eve – two hours earlier than previous years but has maintained its $35 order threshold for free shipping. It is retaining 18,000 personal shoppers fulfilling online orders and to make the instore shopping experience smoother, is introducing 17,000 ‘Check Out with Me’ hosts who will be in key areas of the store. Key departments will be colour-coded so shoppers can easily find deals.

Target is taking advantage of the Toys “R” Us closure by almost doubling its toy collection and creating an online experience to showcase top toy trends and producing a digital gift-giving catalogue. It is also hiring 20% more seasonal staff. Like other retailers it has had a few early deals but most of its deals will kick off on Thursday 22nd November. It is also offering free two-day shipping during the holidays

Amazon kicked off the shopping festivities at the beginning of November with daily discounts and a Black Friday deal preview. It has started cutting prices on several of its own devices and is introducing more discounted products on a rotating basis. To attract shoppers and stay ahead of the competition it is offering free shipping in the US with no purchase minimum for the first time during the holiday period for non-Prime members.

Google Ads is letting advertisers run an experimental ad format specifically for promoting Black Friday and Cyber Monday deals. Until November 27, Google may serve a special Black Friday promotion extension targeting specific keywords. The ads are powered by promotion extensions

Summary:

Deals are coming earlier; free delivery may become a pre-requisite (and with no minimum order) and everything is ‘for your convenience’. Black Friday which started as a festive shopping day to kick off the season, became a shopping week and now it seems to be becoming a shopping quarter.

Further Reading: CNBC | Forbes | Retail Touchpoints | The Guardian | Search Engine Journal