How Retailers can Cater to Consumers' Shopping Behavior this Holiday Season

Retail experts are predicting record-breaking Black Friday sales for 2016. Based on extensive data collected from online and offline retailers last year, economic analysts agree that sales will hit historical highs this holiday season, exceeding last year's record $4.45 billion in just two days--Thanksgiving and Black Friday.

Ever since Macy’s held the first Black Friday Sale after its inaugural parade in 1924, retailers have looked to increase their sales in new and unexpected ways, including offering larger discounts and more services.

One trend that you will see not only continue, but also increase this year, is the “early access” sales that stores offer. In 2015, more than 20 major retailers began their Black Friday sales on the Monday before Thanksgiving. Due to their success, more retailers are expected to follow suit this year, with almost every major retailer expected to start their sales on at least the day before Thanksgiving. Mall department stores are planning to open their doors at 6:00 p.m. on Thanksgiving Day.

Stores are anticipating that they will run out of their door buster items even earlier this year since they will be offered before Thanksgiving Day. While American retailers originally created the door buster idea to get shoppers into stores within the first hour, or even minutes, of the stores opening, it has now become a world-wide promotion due to its vast success. Nationally and internationally, the blow-out pricing will also be offered on-line, offering some items on sale for just a few hours.

Look for more online stores to offer free shipping and even, in some cases, free returns. Stores with flagship locations in Europe and exclusive online stores are hoping that this new benefit will attract new customers.

While retailers will continue to advertise online this year, they are also placing large ads in local and national newspapers, creating their own catalogs as newspaper inserts, and buying television ad space, albeit on a much smaller scale. Retailers’ print advertising continues to recede, with some stores slashing their print budgets by 50%, while increasing digital budgets. Online consumers spent over $2.72 billion on Thanksgiving alone last year, proving that online marketing works--and is needed.

Since over one-third of online shoppers used their mobile phones to make purchases during Black Friday and Saturday last year, retailers are offering discounts to customers who text them to request coupons and who "like" them on social media. While you may not have realized it, Thanksgiving Day, 2015, set a record number with 57 percent of online sales, being made on consumers' smartphones (43 percent) and tablets (14 percent), exceeding desktop shopping visits for the first time; mobile-based purchases generated over $639 million in sales, which was also a new record.

As Adobe stated, "U.S. consumers have turned into digital shopping ninjas this holiday season as retailers continue to adjust to a huge influx of smartphone." While retailers will continue to be loyal to their mainstream advertising, they are looking for new ways to grab this increasing market share. Some companies have not yet started to specifically pinpoint smartphone marketing, but are realizing that it's an area that needs creative solutions to capture the growing cyber market.

Black Friday shopping is responsible for up to 30 percent of several retailers' annual revenue. Knowing the importance of this, analysts carefully track retailers’ success to predict future sales. To learn more about Black Friday and other shopping trends, contact us today.

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