Seasonal Shopping Shifts to Online Sales, Reports Say; “Amazon” tops retail-related tweets on Black Friday.
No, the recession isn’t over. But Black Friday and the beginning of the holiday season may put a bright spot on what was, economically, a bleak year.
The National Retail Federation predicted a 1% drop in sales from last year’s holiday season. So far, according to estimates by comScore, online holiday sales may actually increase by 3%. And the National Retail Federation cited a .5% increase in holiday sales on Black Friday. Not bad, considering how many people talked about cutting back this year.
“Not waiting for Monday”
Even more revealing is the role online sales played in the increase in revenue. I’m interested to see what Cyber Monday brings, with shoppers at their desks for the new workweek and going online to find what they couldn’t get over the weekend – or to find better deals.
For instance, when a certain item my husband wanted was sold out during Sports Authority’s 10-hour Black Friday sale, I went online to get the same item. I added a few more gifts into the mix to save on shipping, and crossed off a decent chunk of my Christmas list.
As shown by the comScore stats, many people aren’t waiting until Monday to use the Internet to “replace” store purchases – they skipped the shopping trips altogether and just went online.
Buyers – not browsers
The view from Nassau County’s Sunrise Mall late Friday evening and early Saturday morning gave circumstantial evidence of the same. On both days, the mall was no more crowded than a typical, non-holiday season Saturday in a healthy economy. Ditto for Target Friday evening. Maybe people were still sleeping off the turkey feast? Or maybe they were sleeping in after spending the early hours of the morning at Kohl’s, Wal-mart, Best Buy and Toys -R- Us. (Keep in mind, this is all circumstantial, personal observations.)
It seems the early morning or, in the case of Wal-mart, round-the-clock openings on Black Friday worked as planned, spreading masses of shoppers across more hours. Local reports say many Long Islanders took advantage of door-buster deals. No doubt increased security also kept this year’s Black Friday sales safe.
Another economic indicator – the number of buyers v. browsers at the mall Friday and Saturday – also showed promise. This includes the poor man carrying at least 10 pounds worth of clothing around JCPenney as he trailed behind his wife and children. “I’m just the pack mule,” he said, laughing as he offered to carry our bags for a nominal fee.
Note for the future: Early Saturday morning after Black Friday is the best time for holiday shopping – you may miss some of the best sales, but you’ll still catch some deals and you’ll miss the crowds.
Amazon = heavy social media marketing
The increase in online sales, which account for less than 10% of all holiday sales, sends a powerful message to offline retailers. If they’re to keep their share of the sales pie, offline retailers will need to take lessons from social marketing masters like Amazon. Data from Trendrr showed that tweets about Amazon accounted for nearly 32% of all Black Friday tweets on Thursday. Amazon beat out Wal-mart, Target and Best Buy with Twitter buzz.
Best Buy trailed the pack on Twitter, which is surprising considering it’s an electronics store with a strong online brand and plenty of synergy between the brick-and-mortar stores and BestBuy.com. I love their feature that lets you order online and pick up merchandise at the customer service counter within a few hours. For shoppers who do their research online and don’t feel a desire to browse, it could be a tremendous time-saver—with properly-trained associates behind the desk to fill these orders, that is.
Hope & faith
In all, numbers from this holiday shopping weekend give us something that’s been sorely lacking for many people recently – hope.
And, when the last Kindle is shipped and the final Zhu-Zhu pet sold, I seem to recall that Hope is one of three important things to remember during the holidays… and you can’t buy any of them. Fill your hearts with faith, hope and love this holiday season, and the rest will fall into place.