When something is so good, it is natural to try to relish in it as long as possible. This is especially true when it comes to shopping, specifically Black Friday shopping. In an effort to harvest as much of the holiday shopping revenue they can, businesses have been expanding Black Friday shopping hours, stretching it out over days, and even weeks, to where shoppers may start referring to it as “Black November.”
One Day Becomes 30
Recent tradition has it that the biggest shopping day of the year is Black Friday, the day after Thanksgiving. Eager and well prepared shoppers pile up at the entrance, ready to enter stores like Wal-Mart on Black Friday to begin the frenzy of hunting down the best deals for Christmas gifts. For retail stores, this is the Super Bowl of shopping days. This year, however, things have changed. It’s no longer just a big day of shopping.
In order to compete with other businesses, maximize sales and keep customer traffic flowing as steadily as possible, retailers are advertising sooner, enticing consumers to take advantage of pre-Black Friday bargains and offering vouchers for those who couldn’t find what they were looking for that day, getting them to come in after Black Friday, as well. All of this is to push the sales of non-gift items.
The earlier customers get to their holiday shopping, the less they focus on their holiday shopping list, which can plateau customer traffic at a time when stores should be busting at the seams. Thus, retailers focus on non-gift purchases, getting those shoppers who may already be set with Christmas to come back and shop more for themselves and their immediate families. More than half of consumers who earned $100,000 or more said they plan on purchasing non-gift items during what is now known as Black November, according to Forbes. Thus, getting customers in early and giving them reasons to keep coming back, even after their holiday list is complete, is a stroke of marketing genius for retailers.
Feeling the Pulse of Consumers
There’s an old adage that says too much of a good thing is too much, something many Black November shoppers can relate to. Last year, some big-name stores, like Costco, sensed that backlash and, as a benefit to their employees (but mainly for good PR), the big box store gave Thanksgiving night off to its employees. This proved to benefit the company, as consumers seemed to like the fact that stores like Costco didn’t feed the shopping frenzy on a holiday evening.
Timing, it seems, is vital when it comes to holiday shopping. Jumping in the frenzy that is Black Friday doesn’t always pan out. Even though Kohl’s pulled in the most consumer traffic during its Black Friday special last year, it still came in below their expectations and had to lower their guidelines the next quarter.
Today’s strategies for Black November now include ways to making sure consumers are happy even before they begin shopping. Wal-Mart guaranteed consumers the merchandise they sought would be in stock, holding one-hour, in-stock guarantees twice on Thanksgiving last year. The retailer assured customers that if they couldn’t find any of specific items owing to them being sold out that it would ship that merchandise to a Wal-Mart they preferred before Christmas.
Another strategy that paid off was offering free gift cards with purchases. In fact, one big box store handed out a limited number of free gift cards ranging from $10 to $100 to customers who purchased doorbuster items like iPads and iPhones, flat-screen TVs and Keurig coffee makers. These types of incentives can help boost sales at a time when the average shopper is spending two percent less on holiday shopping than previous years.
Cyber Shopping Trends
Cyber Monday is another strategy that has pulled Black Friday into a month-long endeavor. This shopping extravaganza has added another dimension to holiday shopping. Though it hasn’t killed the tradition of Black Friday shopping, it indeed has become part of its holiday shopping madness. Cyber Monday has given shoppers the opportunity to shop around for the best deals. And they can do so from the comforts of their own homes or on their smartphones.
Thus, retailers are pushing the online campaign hard, building up email subscriber lists, putting out bargains before Halloween and putting all their stock in mobile shopping, where consumers can shop from their mobile devices quickly and easily while on the go.
Social media sites have proven to increase shopping interest during Black Friday and Cyber Monday. Pinterest’s traffic was up 3.6 times the average around Black Friday and Cyber Monday shopping days, according to Piqora. This proves that shoppers aren’t just “pinning” items they like on Pinterest, they’re looking to purchase them, too.
Triggit reported that Facebook saw a similar spike in traffic, with advertisers on Facebook enjoying a 34 percent spike the click-through re-targeting rates on Cyber Monday.