With Black Friday only about a month away, the holiday season is quickly approaching. A few weeks ago, I suggested that retail may be on the rebound, and the findings of two holiday surveys conducted by digital savings destination RetailMeNot support that prediction.
RetailMeNot gathered consumer sentiment and shopping preference information for the 2017 holiday shopping season via a Google consumer survey that was conducted between July 31 and August 1, 2017. The survey polled 1,015 U.S. consumers aged 18 and over regarding their holiday spending and preferences. The firm also polled 201 retail marketing decision makers using an email invitation and an online survey conducted by Kelton Global between May 11 and May 16, 2017. These surveys indicate that both consumers and retailers are looking forward to a robust holiday shopping season this year.
I also had the chance to hear from RetailMeNot’s Chief Marketing Officer, Marissa Tarleton, regarding the firm’s holiday spending predictions, consumer and retail trends, the omnichannel experience, and how brick-and-mortar stores will fare against e-commerce this season.
Consumer Spending over Black Friday Weekend Is Forecast to Grow by 47% Year over Year
Consumer spending over the Black Friday weekend is expected to increase by 47% from the same period in 2016. According to RetailMeNot’s survey data, consumers plan to spend an average of $743 this year during the weekend that runs from Black Friday through Cyber Monday. That figure is up from an average of $505 over the same weekend last year. The survey data suggest that nearly seven in 10 consumers will shop over the Black Friday holiday weekend this year.
Cyber Monday Has Become Even Bigger than Black Friday in Terms of Online Sales
Cyber Monday is growing in popularity and becoming a bigger holiday shopping event. More than 56% of consumers surveyed by RetailMeNot said that they plan to make a purchase on Cyber Monday this year, compared with 39% last year. In 2016, Cyber Monday was the largest online sales day in history, according to Adobe data: shoppers spent a record $3.39 billion online on Cyber Monday last year, up 10.2% year over year and surpassing the Black Friday online sales total of $3.34 billion. RetailMeNot’s consumer survey data indicate that 52% of consumers are planning to shop on Black Friday this year, comparable to the percentage that planned to shop the holiday in 2016.
Retailers Will Extend Black Friday and Cyber Monday Deals over a Two-Week Promotional Period
Both consumers and retailers surveyed by RetailMeNot predicted that the shopping season this year will be an early and relatively long one. Nearly 45% of shoppers surveyed plan to begin holiday shopping before November 1. RetailMeNot retailer data from 2016 revealed that the average holiday offer began nearly five days before Thanksgiving last year, as retailers sought to capture an anticipated increase in consumer spending by offering early promotions. According to the firm’s survey data, nearly 85% of retailers will be investing more in holiday efforts in 2017 than they did in 2016. In addition, more than 79% of retailers will begin promoting deals even earlier this year than they did last year.
Brick-and-Mortar Retail vs. E-Commerce
According to RetailMeNot’s survey data, brick-and-mortar retail will be alive and well this holiday season. About half of shoppers surveyed said that they are willing to wake up early on Black Friday and Cyber Monday to snag an attractive deal in a store, and 17% of those surveyed said that they have even missed Thanksgiving to get a good deal on Black Friday.
Despite more than half of survey respondents saying that they will go to a store to make a holiday purchase this year, RetailMeNot’s Tarleton predicts that e-commerce will continue to grow this holiday season, as it has over the past few years. According to Adobe data, online sales over the 2016 Thanksgiving weekend (which ran November 24–27) totaled $9.36 billion and were up 16.4% year over year. Also in 2016, Black Friday set a new online sales record, with e-commerce sales surpassing the $3 billion mark for the first time and growing by 21.6% year over year. Thanksgiving Day online sales in 2016 totaled $1.93 billion and were up 11.5% year over year.
Tarleton emphasized that retailers should capitalize on their brick-and-mortar locations and cater to those consumers who enjoy the in-store experience. She noted that customer service—both online and in-store—is incredibly important during the holiday shopping season and that the Black Friday weekend is a significant opportunity for retailers to focus on providing shoppers with a seamless omnichannel experience.
Experiential Gifts and Self-Gifting Are Growing Holiday Trends
Clothes, shoes, electronics and toys are topping this year’s holiday wish lists. Tarleton said that RetailMeNot is also seeing growth in categories such as food, lodging and travel, and entertainment—which suggests that experiential gifts are becoming more popular. She said that RetailMeNot’s survey data also show that consumers are seeking more in-store deals in categories such as health and beauty this year—so, retailers may find opportunity to capture consumers looking to treat themselves with those kinds of items as they shop for gifts for others on their list.
Some 81% of Consumers Use Up to Six Channels to Shop for the Holidays
Finally, RetailMeNot’s survey data indicate that 81% of consumers use up to six channels to find the best holiday deals and promotions: search engines, deal and savings apps, mobile web, retail apps, word of mouth, and newspapers. Social media continues to play a big role in influencing shoppers’ purchase decisions and word-of-mouth recommendations this holiday season will most likely come from shoppers’ friends and family via social media.
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