Loyalty & Rewards

Black Friday: Win, Lose Or Draw

As of this morning, most of America is shaking off the last of the tryptophan stupor, checking their bank accounts to determine exactly how much of their last paycheck they gave to Amazon and applying ice to their physical retail-related brawling injuries.

But the time for eating, shopping and fighting has now passed. The work week has begun, and of course PYMNTS readers would never shop at their desks instead of innovating — even if it is Cyber Monday.

But the good news is you don’t even have to shop today to be part of that national monthlong celebration of commerce that kicked off Thursday night. You can learn everything you need to know about holiday commerce’s inaugural weekend with this week’s edition of the Data Dive.

Physical Retail’s Black Friday Gone Bust

While $10 billion is not normally the sort of thing that anyone rates as a disappointment, when it represents a $1 billion or so deficit, it’s not hard to understand why American brick-and-mortar retailers probably aren’t celebrating too hard today.

In-store sales fell on both Black Friday and Thanksgiving this year, collectively netting $12.1 billion, but down from $13.6 billion in 2014. Black Friday brick-and-mortar took a notable $1.2 billion hit while Thanksgiving sales were down about $200 million to $1.8 billion, according to the retail researcher ShopperTrak.

ShopperTrak’s data also indicated thinner crowds and fewer store visits per customer during Black Friday shopping. As in down 10 percent from last year, which was down more than 30 percent from the year prior, which was down more than that the year before that.

Holy physical retail death spiral, Batman!

Undaunted by the early results, ShopperTrak is still predicting a 2.4 percent year-to-year increase in physical retail foot traffic.

"Fewer visits on both days reinforce the trend we’ve seen throughout the year, in which shoppers are researching products ahead of time, targeting their store visits, and arriving in-store with the intention of making a purchase,” said Kevin Kearns, ShopperTrak chief revenue officer. “The decrease in shopper visits on Thanksgiving Day also lends itself to the social backlash against store openings on the holiday."

From his lips to … shoppers’ ears …

Consumers, it should be noted, didn’t decide not to shop, they just decided not to go to physical stores to do it.

Online sales were up 14 percent on Black Friday as compared to last year, bring in $2.75 billion, based on data from Adobe, which tracked activity on 4,500 retail websites.

Adobe’s data further illustrated that email promotions drove 25 percent more sales compared with last year.

And about those online sales …

Mobile’s Meteoric Rise

While brick-and-mortar was feeling the burn, digital was having a winning weekend that capped off a week of “Black Friday” promotions.

All in, the first two days of the 2015 holiday shopping season clocked $4.45 billion in eCommerce sales, according to Adobe. IBM’s early data indicated that the average basket value increased to ~$135, with sales up 20 percent year over year.

Mobile was the start of the digital show in many regards during the holiday weekend. A third of all purchases, or $1.5 billion, came via smartphone or tablet.

Not all the data was upward trending. IBM’s Benchmark survey tracking thousands of sites indicated that while traffic was up 26 percent compared to a year ago on commerce sites, average spend per order was $123.45, down from $125.25 a year ago,

The 14 percent growth reported by Adobe actually missed projections of 19 percent.

Desktop still maintains an edge when it comes to completing the transaction, but mobile is winning the browsing war and accounting for 60 percent of traffic. And the lead in purchasing is narrowing.

On Thanksgiving, mobile devices accounted for 40 percent of all transactions, up 14.8 percent from a year ago, while on Black Friday 35.3 percent of all sales were on mobile.

Popular items including Apple Watch, Microsoft’s Surface Pro 4, and TVs from Samsung, Sony and LG.

Apple Watches are selling!!!!

Smartphone users on average spent $117.87 per order, according to IBM, while tablet users (though there are fewer) spent almost the same amount desktop users did at a little under $140 per order.

Amex Cuts Back On SMB Boosting

The hard data is not yet in for Small Business Saturday, the soft retail holiday that falls between Black Friday and Cyber Monday that reminds people to patronize their local merchants. Some have been predicting big things. CNBC’s estimate is around $14 billion, based on last year’s $14.3 billion take and 2013’s even $14 billion.

Small Business Saturday, though it has taken on a life of its own over the last five years, was originally conceived by the team over at American Express in 2010 as a method to stimulate foot traffic on Main Street, presumably after consumers had had their fill of the mall the previous day.

And in the last five years Amex has put its money where its promotional campaign mouth was, offering statement credits to cardholders of $10 to $30 for patronizing small businesses on the designated day. But this year it seems American Express has decided to call it quits on those statement credits, as the program no longer needs them.

That’s what they said anyway.

“This year we are not offering a statement credit offer on Small Business Saturday,” the company said on the “Shop Small” section of its website. “In past years, the offer was one of the ways to encourage our customers to make a habit of shopping at small businesses as they begin the holiday season.”

American Express also confirmed they would continue to market the program through its national and local advertising.

“We’ve increased the amount of support we give to businesses, customized marketing materials and are working with different partners to broaden the appeal in the types of small businesses that participate,” said Anre Williams, president of global merchant services at American Express.

So what did we learn about holiday shopping so far? Consumers would rather browse on their phones than on foot in the mall and are rapidly losing enthusiasm for buying in-person. We also learned that Amex is willing to encourage consumers to get out there, but not to pay them to do that any more.

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