We all know the song Twelve Days of Christmas, which tells the length of the holiday season. However, marketers have made Black Friday synonymous with “once in a lifetime deals,” leading shoppers to line up outside of stores as soon as their plates are cleared from the Thanksgiving table. From year to year retailers have the urge to top last year’s sales which have resulted in an extended holiday season. The actual start of the holiday season has been blurred by retail initiatives and marketing campaigns. This extension is causing a major ruckus in the retail and marketing landscape and is having an effect on sales and consumers’ shopping behavior.
Formerly, people travelled from near and far to hunt down the best deals the day after Thanksgiving, however now “Pre-Black Friday” and “Christmas Preview” sales are occurring shortly after Halloween. Some stores are opened on Thanksgiving day for holiday shoppers. This shows that Thanksgiving has been ignored and marketers focus on holidays that include gift giving, numerous parties, and clothing needs. However, with the extension of the season stores are seeing less foot traffic on Black Friday and the sales are decreasing. According to RetailNext, Black Friday net sales in store have been declining. Sales dropped 1.6% last year as compared to 2014, and declined 14.1% in 2014 from the previous year. Traffic also took a dip, dropping 1.8% in 2015 versus the previous year, and 16% in 2014 as compared to 2013. The money that retailers spend on extra manpower for Black Friday and Thanksgiving shopping is losing its value. According to USA Today, nearly two-thirds of consumers stated that they began Christmas shopping before Black Friday. It is no question why Black Friday is losing some of its previous allure. However, the most immediate factor that is impacting Black Friday is online shopping.
In 2005, Cyber Monday was introduced to pair the same shopping frenzy as Black Friday but instead on-line. Cyber Monday was not that popular in its year of inception but now has surpassed Black Friday. This year Cyber Monday sales numbers exceeded expectation reaching $3.34 billion, with nearly a third of all sales transactions taking place on a mobile device. Cyber Monday was also not excluded from the same extended holiday shopping practices set in place for Black Friday. Cyber Monday has been transformed into Cyber Week. Black Friday was traditional in-store only deals, but this has transferred into an online effort that bridges through to Cyber Monday and the rest of the week following Thanksgiving. Also, online shopping is made easier as users have access to shop on mobile applications and use mobile wallet features to get the best deals. Although holiday shopping is not over yet, we can safely predict that online shopping is going to continue to thrive throughout the remainder of the season.
Online shopping has created serious competition for Black Friday, but so has another contender – Super Saturday. The Saturday before Christmas is for all the holiday shopping procrastinators and the last-minute forgotten gift givers. Most of the time these shoppers have no time to order items online, they need gifts right away. Super Saturday has assumed the title of the busiest shopping day of the year in 2014 and 2015, surpassing Black Friday. With Christmas Eve on a Saturday this year, we will see is upheld this year.
In sum, those Twelve Days of Christmas that we are familiar with are only in song. The holiday shopping season is closer to 30 days or even 40 days since marketers are in a race to capture consumers early. Online sales have spiked over the past ten years and as technology advances we expected this to grow. With some retailers such as Amazon moving to faster shipping methods and pitching ideas such as drone delivery, online sales could stay on the rise. The holiday shopping season has gotten increasingly longer over the last few years and it seems that trend is here to stay.