Do you still get a thrill out of waiting in line in your PJs at 4:00 A.M. on Black Friday, hoping to score a sweet deal on a new TV? Do you enjoy the thrill of the hunt for an unbelievable bargain? Is stampeding through a store in the wee hours on the day after Thanksgiving your idea of a post-holiday meal work-out?
If so, you're apparently part of a dying breed. Experts say that the number of Black Friday deal-hunters is dropping off, and the data supports them. According to the National Retail Federation, Black Friday sales this year saw an 11% drop from last year. Industry insiders predicted that 6 million shoppers would pack stores nationwide on Black Friday, but the shoppers were largely no-shows.
Cyber Monday, however, exceeded expectations, with a 17% jump in sales from last year. Shoppers this past Monday set a new record, snapping up over $2 billion in online deals. 20% of these Cyber Monday deal-seekers made their purchases using a mobile device, such as a smartphone or tablet.
How can we explain this increasing disparity between the dip in Black Friday sales & rise in Cyber Monday spenders?
Analysts say that the decline in Black Friday sales indicates that our holiday shopping season is becoming less of a sprint and more of a marathon. They say that consumers aren't as interested in whiplash deals early in the season, but instead are holding out for deeper discounts as the holidays draw near. Some others view the Black Friday slump as a boycott of big box retailers opening earlier and earlier now, especially since the advent "Grey Thursday," in which retailers open the evening or night of Thanksgiving Day. Facebook feeds everywhere were packed with posts denouncing this practice, and people vowed not to give their dollars to stores that seem to value their profit over their employees & their employees' families. Some of the decline may simply be "deal fatigue," as consumers sifted through email inboxes packed with retail promotions, such as free shipping, dollars and percentages off, and complimentary gifts with minimum purchases.
If Cyber Monday is any indication, the slump really boils down to competition. Consumers are more empowered than ever before - we have greater access to more information and broader options, but less time to spend elbowing one another in the pursuit of a $10 blender. Perhaps we as a nation have always preferred to spend our time lounging with family in the afterglow of a hearty Thanksgiving meal, instead of camping outside of Best Buy; the difference is that we now have the ability to do so without worrying that waiting to shop will impact our budgets.
I, for one, welcome this change in holiday shopping dynamics, and I also sincerely hope to see the growing trend of Small Business Saturday continue. American Express founded Small Business Saturday in 2010, "to help businesses with their most pressing need--getting more customers." Small Business Saturday happens on the Saturday after Thanksgiving, and AmEx's program "encourages people to shop at the small businesses that help write the story of America." Here at RSVP, most of our clients own small businesses, and we take great pride in helping them "write the story of America." Working with these dedicated entrepreneurs has made me stop and think before each purchase, "Who is this sale benefiting?" I know that each dollar spent in our local community tends to stay more local - and that is true every day of the year, not just on Small Business Saturday! Help your local community by giving your money to the businesses that make it a great place to live. Eat in small local joints. Shop with your mom and pop retailers. Buy something handmade & unique, instead of something mass-produced & mundane. And don't stop with the holiday season - join the Shop Small Movement all year round!
Contributed by Heather Craaybeek.
For more information on the 2014 holiday sales season & Small Business Saturday, please check out the links below: