The Expansion of Black Friday — and the Entire Season
Retailers have concluded that the formula for increasing seasonal sales totals is mostly based on increasing holiday promotions, deals, and store hours—hours that now include Thanksgiving night. The holiday season now basically overlaps with the back-to-school shopping period, with promos and Christmas displays popping up in early September.
Soaring Online Sales, So-So In-Store Sales
It's been yet another very strong season for e-commerce. Online spending was up sharply on Thanksgiving, Black Friday, and Cyber Monday alike (increasing 17 percent or more compared to corresponding days in 2011), and consumers hardly tired of online shopping in the weeks that followed. Meanwhile, spending in physical stores was down nearly 2 percent on Black Friday.
Brick-and-Mortar and Online (Try to) Become One
If there's one dominant trend in retail lately, it's the utter blurring of online and offline shopping. Early on, a retailer's presence in social media might have come as a result of a few ambitious young interns. Today, retailers and analysts talk nonstop about the need to combine online and offline sales efforts, with phrases like "multiscreen shopper," "omnichannel shopping," and "cross-platform marketing" popping up regularly. Retailers understand that "showrooming" is commonplace, and that it's not necessarily a bad thing to encourage a combined online-offline shopping experience.
Price Matching Crosses the Digital Line
This season, for the first time ever, Target and Best Buy offered to match online competitor prices. PayPal and certain credit cards offered expansive price-matching services as well, giving shoppers more options than ever to assure that they wouldn't wind up paying too much.