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How Dec. 26 Could Turn Into The Next Black Friday

Step aside Black Friday hype, there’s a new Friday this year that may capture a growing share of consumer retailer dollars: Today, Dec. 26.

Black-Friday and post-Christmas sales have a common thread when it comes to making their mark in the holiday shopping season. For instance, Black Friday used to be one day. At a minimum, it now starts on Thanksgiving and sort of flops into Cyber Monday.  Similarly, post-Christmas sales are actually advertised for days leading up to Christmas.

“If you thought Black Friday sales were good, after-Christmas sales should break a few records of their own,” said Mark LoCastro of DealNews.com, a site that tracks pricing trends. The website reported the trend has been observed for several years and should keep pace as retailers realize there are opportunities to attract consumers to stores directly before and after Christmas.

Black Friday sales disappointed many retailers this year from previous years, but there may be room for the post-Christmas Friday sales to pick up the slack. It’s unlikely that we’ll actually see people camping outside big-box storefronts, though there may be a consumer trend that more retailers will learn they can capitalize on. The day after Christmas, particularly when it falls on a Friday, offers more opportunities for consumers to hit the stores to return those unwanted Christmas gifts  – not to mention redeem those newly received gift cards. And that’s a big market since, according to the National Retail Association, spending on physical or digital gift cards will top the charts. The average person buying gift cards is estimated to spend $172.74, up from $163.16 last year. Total gift card spending is expected to reach $31.74 billion this year.

Falling one day before the weekend could also boost foot traffic as it’s less likely people will be going into work and more likely they’ll have time to hit the stores. So which stores will receive the most attention? DealsNews reported that last year, 45 percent of after-Christmas sales the site tracked were clothing related. Many retailers are expected to slash their already advertised sales even more. Clothing won’t be the only post-Christmas shopping draw electronics will account for 12 percent of sales. Particularly in the tech field where new items will rollout in January, retailers look to the weeks following Christmas to clear their shelves to make room for new inventory.

Just like the mainstream media builds up the hype around Black Friday every year — which we’ve reported didn’t live up to predictions — the media works to remind consumers there’s still room to shop after Christmas. A CNBC article called the day “the red-headed stepchild of the holiday shopping season.”

“It’s important to remember that holiday spending doesn’t end when the gifts are opened on Christmas Day—a fact that will be particularly significant this year, thanks to a small shift of the calendar,” the article reported. “Because Dec. 25 falls on a Thursday this year, experts predict the 26th will see a boost in traffic compared to 2013. …That momentum is expected to carry into the weekend, helping retailers lure customers into their stores to spend their gift cards, and at the same time, potentially avoid dramatic markdowns on holiday merchandise.”

Retail analysts have spoke about how having fewer days between Thanksgiving and Christmas would impact holiday spending, but what it could mean is that people will spend those dollars after Christmas. A survey that polled 2,200 shoppers reported that 9 percent of holiday spending will take place after Christmas, which is a 3 percent increase from last year. Outside of holiday shoppers, it’s predicted the day after Christmas will be a day for consumers to cash in on the many gift cards that are predicted to be gifted.

“We do expect to see a lot of traffic in the stores as a result of the calendar,” Bill Martin, founder of analytics firm ShopperTrak told CNBC.

There might be consumers stepping through the doors at brick-and-mortar shops, but that doesn’t mean Dec. 26 will post big on sales numbers. Because items are highly discounted to draw customers in, ShopperTrak predicts it to be the sixth biggest sales day of the year. But foot traffic may be what retailers need most this year. 

“All of that tends to put a little downward pressure on the sales volume side, but there’s plenty of upside for the traffic,” Martin said.

The day after Christmas could mean big foot traffic in stores, which is certainly needed in a time where stores face an average of 15 percent drop in foot traffic, but what about the e-commerce impact?

Online sales was the bread and butter for retailers around Thanksgiving, as Black Friday holiday shopping sales were up 17 percent. Mobile also contributed to that growth as it accounted for 51.2 percent of all e-commerce browsing, and 28.9 percent of sales. Online retailers might be busier the day after Christmas dealing with consumers making returns, printing shipping labels and responding to customer service inquires. The post-Christmas shopping boost may actually come from brick-and-mortar shops, instead of online, since people will likely be with friends and family for the day.

“It’s still the holiday and people want to be out and about going to dinner, being with friends and family and shopping,” said Mark LoCastro, a spokesman with Dealnews.com.

Dec. 26 isn’t likely to post the same $1 billion sales figures that brick-and-mortar retailers and e-commerce sites saw on Black Friday, but if holiday retail trends toward extending sales long into the holiday season, particularly post-Christmas, then Dec. 26 may soon enough become the newest holiday shopping season hype.

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