Whether customers are fans of Christmas creep or not, there’s no denying that the holiday shopping season seems to be starting earlier and earlier every year. Retailers from every industry work on extensive holiday shopping displays and competitive pricing deals to draw customers into their stores well ahead of the start of winter, but there’s one date the nearly everyone agrees is the official start of the holiday shopping season and a positive jolt to retail sales across the country: Black Friday.
But despite all the industry clamor over getting into the black, do customers even like Black Friday shopping anymore?
That was the question at the core of a survey conducted by Best Black Friday. With more than 1,100 people who plan to buy at least one item this upcoming Black Friday participating in the study, BBF began by collecting basic spending information on this cohort of holiday shoppers.
"Our pie chart shows that 38 percent of shoppers plan on spending $1 to $250 on Black Friday,” BBF wrote. “Thirty percent of shoppers plan on spending $251 to $500, while the remaining 32 percent will spend $501 or more. The wide majority of shoppers will spend $101 to $750."
However, spending is all well and good, but if all that’s driving customers to shop is an obligation to check family members off a list, brands are missing out on significant opportunities to connect and engage with captive audiences. Unfortunately, the BBF survey findings point to exactly that.
“Seventy-nine percent of shoppers do not actually enjoy the process of Black Friday shopping,” the report explained. “They likely consider it stressful and even somewhat dangerous.”
While threats to shoppers’ bodily health might be overstated, the rush of crowds and intense pressure to score a good deal can almost certainly turn otherwise willing shoppers away. Especially in the modern eCommerce retail world, some shoppers might see ordering and receiving packages without leaving home as vastly more convenient than the Black Friday crush.
However, brick-and-mortar retailers may have no one other than themselves to blame for the lack of Black Friday enthusiasm this year. The BBF survey found that nearly 63 percent of consumers no longer believe that the deepest discounts of the season happen on Black Friday. Even though the crowds may swell in midnight lines every year, it’s clear that the year-round savings culture of eCommerce sites has eroded consumer confidence in Black Friday deals.
"While many people do not think Black Friday has the deepest discounts, they will still shop it regardless,” BBF wrote. “It is a day where the overall volume of deals is higher than any other day, so shoppers have a better chance of finding items that they desire. Days such as Cyber Monday, Thanksgiving and all of the pre-Black Friday events are making some shoppers unsure of when the best deals are actually available."
Consumers may not have to wait long before Black Friday is just a footnote on retail calendars. According to data from ShopperTrak, Black Friday is quickly falling down the rank of the highest retail traffic-producing days of the year. As of 2014, Super Saturday (Dec. 20) and the day after Christmas have surpassed Black Friday, and with more shoppers turning to their laptops and smartphones rather than the local mall, many expect this trend to continue.
It’s difficult to say how eCommerce and brick-and-mortar shopping will continue to shape Black Friday, once the bedrock of retail holiday sales. However, if brick-and-mortar merchants don’t have an engaging value proposition and dynamic discounts to excite customers about coming into their stores at the crack of dawn, they better have a robust digital marketplace to catch the shoppers who slip through.