By: Martin Cahill
Cyber Monday is eating Black Friday, and at the same time, morphing into a multi-day event that threatens to dwarf in-store sales.
According to USA Today, while Cyber Monday, “yielded $3.45 billion in sales, a new online record,” the mobile and desktop buying on Black Friday “inched so close to Cyber Monday this year, generating only $110 million less in online sales.”
Black Friday used to be just that: a one-day event designed to get people into physical stores, get consumers face-to-face with one of a kind deals, and most of all, prepare for the deluge of bargains, coupons, deals, displays, and more to come in the holiday season. But in the past five to ten years, the singularity of the event is fading.
Now more than ever, Black Friday is merely the starter’s pistol: once it goes off, it doesn’t herald a single day of special deals. Instead, it kicks off a whole weekend dedicated to shopping, either in-store, online, or some mixture of the two. You have Black Friday, Small Business Saturday, and Cyber Monday, (and I have no doubt we’re only a few years away from some intrepid branding guru claiming Sunday and giving it a shining crown). What started as a single, clamoring day, has become a live-action thriller weekend, carrying us all the way into Monday and beyond into the Holiday Retail Season.
This movement, coupled with the transition of buying power going to the digital and mobile spaces (very quickly for some, such as Amazon, while slower for others), has seen in-store numbers drop on Black Friday over the past few years. More and more, people have no need to go into the physical locations anymore, no matter what advertisements try to entice them with. Horror stories of Black Friday mayhem, fighting, and generally offensive human behavior don’t help. Coupled with the immense growth of digital, mobile, and desktop to make buying that much easier, in-store appearances are dwindling.
Companies are sending out their post-Thanksgiving ads and their deals far ahead of time. Starting sometime earlier in the week, and going until the very end of the day Monday, people are immersed in the buying culture as soon as possible by retailers and manufacturers. But as matter of fact, as the rise in mobile and desktop buying has accelerated, it is equally surprising that this shopping isn’t limited to Cyber Monday. USA Today also said that, “Walmart, for instance, began offering some Cyber Monday discounts at 8 p.m. on Sunday,” with Amazon’s Black Friday focused on “feature(ing) cyber deals all week.”
So what’s the trend? Or rather, what does that mean for the retail season? Well, as explained by eMarketer in a presentation after the first big holiday weekend, there’s a lot in flux. The election, as we know, drastically affected the stock market, as well as online buying, and continues to be a negative blemish in terms of an overall economic concern. Ecommerce shoppers outnumbered in-store shoppers.. Amazon, specifically Amazon Prime account members are increasingly forgoing any shopping outside of Amazon for their needs, and skipping anything in-store altogether. Our economy as a whole is strong through Q3 and the projected Q4, but with the election results continuing to influence all spheres of this country, nothing is a guarantee. Overall, according to EMarketer, there is growth to be had, and the frenzied efforts of other retailers is enough to go up against Amazon for the remainder of the year.
But overall, the landscape, which was once balanced, is becoming undone in the past few years, this year being no exception. Mobile and Ecommerce are up, and in-store is driven primarily by in-store exclusives. Slight hiccups on Black Friday, either in-store or mobile, don’t change the fact that Cyber Monday is becoming a monolith for the entire weekend, and has become a beacon whose successes help dictate the rest of the season to come.