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The Ghost of Black Friday Past

Jennifer Polumbo
Solution Manager, Stores and Commerce

Deck the halls with tons of deals Fa la la la la, la la la la. Tis the season to start shopping Fa la la la la, la la la la. Black Friday has long been a tradition just like a classic Christmas carol. Though in recent years Black Friday has been modernized like my new version of Deck the Halls.

I’ve been a Black Friday shopper for years and like many of you, the day starts in the early morning hours to get in line for the season’s hottest deals. Furnishing my first apartment, then my first house, and renovating the kitchen have all been served well in years past by Black Friday sales and deals.   

In recent years I have found that I am still hunting for the best deals, but more and more research and shopping is done from my couch. I can’t say that I miss the cold, Northeast mornings lined up outside. My bargain shopping is also starting earlier in the season but according to NRF, I’m not alone. In NRF’s Annual October Holiday Consumer Survey, 39% of consumers will start their holiday shopping before November. Could it be a new version of A Christmas Carol…the ghost of Black Friday Past?

If we visit the ghost of Black Friday Present this brings us to Cash Back Thursday, Singles Day, and Black Friday Preview Sales all before we even get to Black Friday and Cyber Monday. I’ve shopped all these sales as I consider it part of my job, it’s research, right? The “research” was done in the comfort of my own home with a glass of wine in hand. I can’t say that I would have been racing to shop in store since different retailers had one or two items I was interested in. For me the convenience of online shopping rules since I don’t have the time to commit to driving from store to store. I’m with the camp of 55% of shoppers who prefer to purchase holiday gifts online.1

Like Scrooge I haven’t changed. I’ve always come up with a shopping strategy for Black Friday ahead of the big day. I start by scanning Black Friday ads to create my shopping list and strategy to plot the course; who “opens” first and how much do I need to spend to get free shipping? A differentiator for me is when my favorite brands send me a timely discount code for something they know will peak my interest. In fact, 48% of today’s consumers feel it’s essential to receive offers/discounts based on purchase history.2

Unlike Scrooge though I am happy to change my ways. Right now, I don’t think I will be leaving the comforts of my home this holiday season to check off my shopping list. I will either have things shipped to my house or I will schedule them for in-store pickup, if I don’t meet the free shipping requirements. Store pickup lets me stop in after the initial peak shopping times are over. I know some stores are still offering certain door busters as in-store only, but they don’t happen to be anything on my wish list this year. Consumer research reports that 68% of shoppers lean to retailers who offer a faster delivery option and 51% associate convenience with a great shopping journey.3

With 6 days less to shop this holiday season, including one less weekend, I am looking to make my holiday shopping as easy as possible. The holiday gatherings with family and friends will start earlier, which means I need to complete my shopping sooner. Like many shoppers, I have high expectations that on-line purchases will arrive on time. Retailers beware, research tells us that 50% of shoppers will look for an alternative retailer when items do not arrive on time.

This holiday shopping evolution, while great for me as a shopper, poses new challenges for retailers. The holiday rush has already started which means all retail omnichannel systems must be in place and ready to go. I understand how shopping carts and item availability work though I am sure I will see some socials posts from friends about their trials and tribulations this holiday. Perception and a lack of understanding is something that retailers must prepare for and handle as part of the user experience. How many times have you heard from friends and family, “but I had it in my cart?”

At the end of the holiday shopping season, what will the ghost of Black Friday Future predict?

For the Top Essentials to Keep Customers Coming Back All Season Long Check Out:
4 Must-Haves for the 2019 Modern Black Friday Shopper

4 Must-Haves for the 2019 Modern Black Friday Shopper Infographic

1-4Setting the Bar: 2019 Retail Consumer Experience Trends

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