What Should In-Store and Online Retailers Expect This Thanksgiving Weekend?

Peter Roesler, President - Web Marketing Pros

By Peter Roesler

President, Web Marketing Pros

shutterstock_234105334Today is the last day before Thanksgiving and for many business owners, these are the final moments before the real madness begins. For generations, the day after Thanksgiving has been the unofficial start of the holiday season. Historically, that has meant a great day for retailers. In fact, the term “Black Friday” was first coined by police officers who used the term to denote the increase calls for service caused by the greater density of shoppers and drivers in the area by stores (tales about it being the day when many retailers exit the red and enter the black were made up after the fact to explain away the grim origins of the term and are factually inaccurate).

But what about today? Do the days after Thanksgiving matter as much as the hype would have you believe. The short answer is yes, but the data shows that many shoppers are turning to the internet for deals on Black Friday and sometimes even before.

New research from International Council of Shopping Centers suggests that the Thanksgiving holiday weekend is still a good time for in-store retailers. Their data indicates that seven out of 10 (71%) consumers say they’ll shop for the holidays between Thursday and Sunday (November 25 – 29).

This sounds good as a whole, but when you drill down into the numbers, no more than 41 percent of the consumers said they planned to shop on any one day. According to the ICSC, 15 percent said the will shop in stores on Thanksgiving Day. The greatest number (41 percent) said they would try to shop in stores on Black Friday. And about a third said they would shop in stores either Saturday or Sunday (30 percent).

Part of the reason for the lower than expected, but still impressive, in-store sales volume is the fact that peopple can shop online. Without even counting the people who have already begun shopping online, or who intend to shop online between Thanksgiving Day and Sunday, and additional 32 percent said they will shop online on Cyber Monday.

“Shoppers’ in-store plans for Cyber Monday shows the lines between the online and in-store retail experiences are continuing to blur,” says Jesse Tron, ICSC Spokesman. “In-store shopping remains the preeminent channel for transactions, but online retail is continuing to influence those transactions by offering added value to shoppers in the form of research, in-store pickup, and more.”

Looking at what people will be shopping for, the answers may be a little surprising. While three out of five people (60 percent) surveyed said they will be spending  on holiday gifts for others, many people will be out shopping just to take advantage of the sales. According to the ICSC report, 29 percent are planning on buying non-gift items for themselves and their household and 11 percent on non-gift items for people not in their house.

Even when people are shopping in-store during the Thanksgiving weekend, internet marketing remains very important. Mobile devices allow people to use online resources while they shop in store. The ICSC data shows that many people are planning to use such resources this weekend. Nearly 80 percent of those surveyed said they’ll use a mobile device while in stores. The majority (56 percent) will be comparing prices. And about third said they would be using their mobile devices for activities such as checking product ratings/reviews (37 percent) or check product availability at a given store (36 percent). And a little over a quarter (27%) will be searching for coupons or taking pictures of items they plan to purchase later.

While there may not be huge crowds beating down the doors, there are a lot of reasons for business owners to be excited for the Thanksgiving weekend. Since internet marketing is quick and easy to setup, there is still time to set up an ad for two before it these shopping-filled days have past.

For more data about the holidays from last year, read this article with 8 holiday shopping stats from the 2014 holiday season.

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