Holiday Shopping Season 2014: Key Days
Traditionally Black Friday – the day that kicks off the holiday shopping season – is the most lucrative day of the year for retailers. While this has remained true over the last decade, other days are poised to knock Black Friday down a few pegs thanks to the internet as well as retailers’ catering to consumer habits. Below you will find a list of important holiday shopping dates, how they did last year, and what they may look like this year.
Arguably the most contentious of shopping days – with many retailers, employees, customers, and families arguing over when retailers should open, if at all – Thanksgiving has proven that it can contend with the big boys. According to figures from the NRF, nearly one third of shopper who made a purchase over Thanksgiving/Black Friday weekend did so on Thanksgiving Day. E-commerce figures for the weekend also peaked on Thanksgiving, proving that more consumers are reaching for their devices before taking their post-dinner naps. With more customers using e-commerce than ever before, expect Thanksgiving to be one of the busiest shopping days this year.
Black Friday Weekend
Black Friday may be the biggest shopping day of the year, however it is becoming less relevant as the entire weekend becomes more dynamic. This is partly due to some retailers pacing their sales last year, which ended up being a big success. This sales pacing not only helped retailers better manage foot traffic and crowds, but it lead to higher overall sales for the two days following Black Friday. I see more retailers jumping on board the sales pacing trend this year which will help spread sales figures more evenly, ultimately pushing Black Friday Weekend to the forefront.
Much like Black Friday, Cyber Monday is transforming into a week-long event rather than a single day phenomena. Yes Cyber Monday was still the strongest day of the week last year with online sales breaking the $2 billion mark for the first time in history, but the three days following Cyber Monday each broke the $1 billion mark according to comScore. While Cyber Monday will remain the single largest e-commerce day of the year, the trend towards a Cyber Week will be more noticeable this season.
Whether it’s Cyber Monday, Green Monday, or the Monday before Christmas, the first day of the week produced some of the largest shopping days last year. Each week leading up to the Christmas holiday closely mimicked Cyber Week, with sales figures peaking on Monday then slowly trailing off until the weekend. As a retailer you need to keep Mondays on the radar, but thanks to the trends mentioned above – sales becoming week long events rather than single day spectacles – don’t expect Mondays to be quite as rewarding as they were last year.
Weekend before Christmas
Procrastinators unite! The last weekend before Christmas always seems to post strong sales numbers as customers wait until the last minute to get their shopping done. The last minute rush typically takes place in stores, however last year many shoppers tested their luck online which lead to a logistical nightmare for the nation’s parcel delivery services. With companies like UPS and FedEx promising better service this year last minute shopping is poised to break e-commerce records. Regardless of what happens this season, the weekend before Christmas will produce heavy foot and web traffic.
Officially the holiday shopping season will last for 28 days this year, but we all know that the season now expands far beyond the traditional boundaries. From early fall reminders to post-holiday promotions, it can be argued that the holiday shopping season now covers more than a quarter of the calendar. Nevertheless, the most important shopping days still fall within the traditional boundaries of Thanksgiving/Black Friday Weekend and Christmas Day.
As we continue to creep closer to the holiday shopping season I will start to look at some strategies that took off last year, and a few that are in the plans for this year. Other posts in this series can be read here: Early Outlooks, Trends that Took Off, Tips for LP, Shopping Experience, Merchandising, Predictions, Analysis