Cyber Monday sales hit $9.4 billion this year, up 19.7% from 2018, topping the $7.4 billion sold on Black Friday, according to data from Adobe Analytics. However, Cyber Monday is actually becoming less distinct from Black Friday, which posted nearly identical 19.6% year-over-year growth. The merging of digital and omnichannel shopping is blurring the lines between e-Commerce and brick-and-mortar, as well as whether deals are focused on one specific channel or day.
“Black Friday used to be its own holiday a decade ago: it was this one day where there was a tremendous concentration of shopping,” said Scott Rankin, Principal, Consumer and Retail Strategy Practice Leader at KPMG in an interview with Retail TouchPoints. “Now you’ve got almost a mini season consisting of Thanksgiving, Black Friday, Thanksgiving weekend and Cyber Monday, and a lot of that shopping has been spread over more days.”
A record-breaking 189.6 million consumers shopped either online or in-store from Thanksgiving Day through Cyber Monday, an increase of 14% over 2018, according to the NRF and Prosper Insights & Analytics. Black Friday, traditionally seen as the more store-focused shopping day, actually topped Cyber Monday as the busiest day for online traffic, with 93.2 million customers compared to Monday’s 83.3 million. Shoppers made 78% of their purchases at omnichannel retailers, according to the International Council of Shopping Centers (ICSC).
“When Cyber Monday first started 14 years ago, it was all about how I can buy stuff online. Black Friday was about how I need to get the store early, before everyone else who has the day off gets there,” said Dan Neiweem, co-founder and principal at Avionos in an interview with Retail TouchPoints. “Now we’re seeing something different: it’s become a digital weekend. All the deals, all of my research, all of my options, everything happens digitally. The buy online, pick up in-store (BOPIS) activity happens online, and it carries through the entire weekend. It’s no longer about singular events — everything’s part of the black box of buying during that period.”
BOPIS Growth Offers Additional Sales Opportunities
The increasingly omnichannel nature of Thanksgiving weekend is reflected in the massive spike in BOPIS recorded by Adobe Analytics:
- Black Friday saw a 43.2% uptick in year-over-year BOPIS sales;
- Small Business Saturday saw 46.6% BOPIS growth; and
- Cyber Monday saw 40.6% BOPIS growth.
The rise of BOPIS (and shoppers’ growing comfort with the practice) does more than make Black Friday and Cyber Monday feel more similar — it also offers retailers new opportunities. While shoppers have been conditioned to look for the best deals online, retailers can enhance great e-Commerce deals with a pickup method that brings customers into the store.
“Cyber Monday really used to be this great day for pure-play online retailers like Amazon, but now you see more and more physical retailers actually take part in it,” said Stephanie Cegielski, VP of Public Relations at ICSC in an interview with Retail TouchPoints. “Those sales may have happened online yesterday, but they’re also happening online at retailers that also have a physical presence.”
Black Friday retail sales can benefit from the security of a BOPIS transaction, which allows shoppers to take their time, comfortable in the knowledge that their online purchase is waiting for them and won’t be sold out when they get to it. The Black Friday rush can be stressful, but BOPIS lets customers move at their own pace.
“The thing about BOPIS is that when people go into a store on Black Friday, one of their biggest fears they have is running around, spending half an hour trying to find a parking spot, and by the time they get into the store the item is sold out,” said Rankin. “I think BOPIS is a great way for consumers that still like to go into the store to experience the rush of Black Friday and great deals. It also gives them the opportunity to guarantee that the specific items they want will be there when they get there.”
Additionally, retailers can take advantage of BOPIS across the holiday season to offset the low margins created by deep promotions and deals, according to Rankin. The ICSC found that 70% of Thanksgiving and Black Friday BOPIS shoppers purchased additional items when picking up their merchandise, so retailers should make sure they have other great gift ideas on display to make the most of these trips.
Social Media Proves To Be A Valuable Holiday Weekend Research Tool
While social media doesn’t generally grab Black Friday headlines, retailers shouldn’t ignore the channel’s impact during the season. Generation Z and Millennial shoppers in particular are likely to follow both retailers and influencers on social platforms so they can track the best deals the moment they go public. For their part, retailers should make it as easy as possible to turn preliminary research into a purchase.
“We see that social had a big impact on this weekend,” said Neiweem. “A lot of it is people going in and saying, ‘Where are the deals that I want and how can I get them?’ and following their retailers of choice to see what they’re going to put on sale so they can be at the front of the line faster. A lot of people are doing their research in advance, understanding and following their friends and the influencers that are pushing the things they want to buy while waiting for the right time to click through and follow to that purchase.”
The Season Is Far From Over, So Bring On The Holiday Cheer
Thanksgiving weekend may be over, but eight of the 10 busiest shopping days are still ahead, according to predictions from Sensormatic Solutions. Brick-and-mortar retailers in particular are positioned to capture sales as they help last-minute shoppers feel secure that their purchases won’t get lost in transit or otherwise delayed. Tapping into the holiday spirit can make every shopping trip feel special, rather than a harried fight against the clock.
“During Black Friday I was in the Nordstrom here in New York City, and they did a huge kickoff where they had snow falling and Santa coming down the escalator,” said Stephanie Cegielski, VP of Public Relations at ICSC in an interview with Retail TouchPoints. “It was an experiential thing that really got you in the mood for the holidays. Providing some sort of experience, whether it’s Santa or something else, is really important — really embrace the holidays to encourage people to shop.”
As the lines between individual shopping days blur, every one becomes important — after all, every day in November topped $1 billion in sales, according to Adobe Analytics. The short holiday season led to early promotions and early spending: shoppers spending at least $1,000 during the holidays were 69% more likely than others to make purchases in October and November. But this didn’t slow down Black Friday or Cyber Monday, and it won’t slow down sales during the remainder of the season.
“On balance, and given how early promotions began before Halloween, the weekend went very well, especially online,” said Charlie O’Shea, VP at Moody’s. “The big guys (Walmart, Amazon, Target, Costco, and Best Buy) if anything likely exceeded expectations, but don’t forget it is a very long season, running until Super Bowl weekend.”