It will take some time before retailers have a more comprehensive data set to work with but preliminary numbers from Black Friday are a mixed bag for retailers. In-store sales were down on Black Friday, but online sales surged, when compared to similar data from last year. These early Black Friday sales figures suggest that early special deals, mobile marketing and the internet in general are changing how and when people shop for the holidays.
According to ShopperTrak, U.S. shoppers spent $9.1 billion at stores on Black Friday. While certainly an impressive figure, it still represents a 7 percent decline from last year. The ShopperTrak data suggests that many of these in-store visits have shifted from Black Friday to Thanksgiving Day. The number of people shopping in-store on Thanksgiving Day increased by 27 percent, as more retailers started “Black Friday” sales on Thursday evening.
“People are changing their behavior,” said Bill Martin, one of ShopperTrak’s co-founder’s in a statement to a CBS affiliate. “We’ve seen this for two years in a row now. Stores opening on Thanksgiving are simply eroding sales from Black Friday.”
A separate survey by IBM found that Thanksgiving Day and Black Friday were great days for online retailers. IBM estimated that online sales increased 9.5 percent for Black Friday and a 14.3 percent for Thanksgiving Day when compared with data from same period last year.
The big winner for the holidays were retailers who took advantage of mobile marketing. According to the IBM data, Thanksgiving Day mobile traffic accounted for 52.1 percent of all online traffic – the first time mobile devices have outpaced their PC counterparts for online browsing.
Similarly, Black Friday mobile traffic reached 49.6 percent of all online traffic, an increase of 25 percent over last year. Black Friday mobile sales accounted for 27.9 percent of total online sales, an increase of 28.2 percent over the previous year.
“Mobile has become the new Thanksgiving tradition as consumers find the best deals with their fingers as well as their feet,” said Jay Henderson, Director, IBM Smarter Commerce in a press release. “We saw retailers harness the power of data to engage shoppers, identifying the unique preferences of their customers while quickly capitalizing on online, mobile or in-store trends as they emerged.”
Not being prepared for the growing influx of mobile may have cost Best Buy a few sales. According to TechCrunch, mobile this year also played a part in crashing Best Buy’s website. Catchpoint Systems, a web performance monitoring company, noted that Best Buy had three outages since Thanksgiving.
One specific retailer who benefited was Amazon. Amazon sold more than 5.5 million products on Black Friday. More than 3,000 deals launched on Black Friday on Amazon, helping the online giant sell items at a rate of 64 items a second. Amazon believes that sale on Cyber Monday will be equally good for retailers who use the platform to sell goods and services.
Thanksgiving weekend traditionally marks the beginning of the holiday shopping season, but things were already in full swing before the turkey was carved. With a little more than three weeks left until Christmas, marketers still have time to reach consumers with deals on gifts for loved ones. The data from this past weekend shows that mobile marketing should be an integral part of a strategy to reach consumers.
The growing importance and competition from online sales is another reason why retailers should try to offer free shipping. For more data that can help business owners create holiday marketing plans that generate sales.