Black Friday Forecasts

This blog was written by our intern, Jenna Jordan

For many Americans, Thanksgiving signals countless things: the beginning of the holiday season, spending time with family, reflecting on what you’re grateful for, or eating too much of your favorite homemade dishes. Sometimes it’s all of the above! But for more than 70% of Americans planning to holiday shop, Thanksgiving marks the “official” start of Black Friday. Even before the turkey-induced drowsiness wears off, many are already planning where to find the best discounts. This Black Friday however, discounts have already begun weeks in advance, both in brick-and-mortar stores and online.

The shopping triad gains momentum: Brick-and-mortar, e-commerce and mobile expected to break records

For many years, Black Friday was a historically brick-and-mortar sales holiday that eventually moved into the e-commerce world. But this year, it is estimated that shoppers will stray away from tradition and move to mobile on Black Friday – which is expected to be the biggest mobile shopping day ever in the U.S.

While Cyber Monday is still the largest e-commerce sales day, Chain Store Age predicts that e-commerce will see larger growth on Black Friday, just as it did in 2016. However, success in brick-and-mortar retail shouldn’t be ruled out this year, as 44% of Americans who will shop are planning to camp out for doorbusters. Overall, price is the most important factor related to shopping during the holiday season, so consumers are likely to do their research and plan ahead before making their purchases, whether in a physical store or online.

A shift to “Black November”

In a lot of ways, it feels as though Black Friday has already begun. eBay found in a new survey that 45% of Americans start holiday shopping well before Black Friday, and retailers are responding. On November 1, Amazon opened its Black Friday store. Other major retailers, including Kohl’s, Walmart and Sears, are also pushing promotions earlier. Target has made the decision to close its stores at midnight on Thanksgiving – but it’s not a sign of brick-and-mortar decline. More likely, Target is just taking a page out of REI’s #optoutside campaign playbook and focusing on the well-being of its employees as a means of differentiation instead. Additionally, their Black Friday discounts began on November 6, so there is no need to rush to the store Thanksgiving Day.

Steve Barr, U.S. Retail and Consumer Sector Leader at PwC, has taken to calling Black Friday “Black November” as the discounts continue to stretch out over the month. “Black Friday is still going to have a meaningful place on the retail calendar,” said Barr in a Retail TouchPoints interview. “It’s just not as significant as it used to be as a stand-alone date.”

According to Forbes, consumer spending over Black Friday weekend is forecast to grow by 47% year after year. Yet more retailers – an expected 70 to 80 stores, will be closing its doors on Thanksgiving in 2017. This isn’t a result of a brick-and-mortar decline, but simply a reflection of a discounting season lasting longer. As a result, consumers may be able to keep their Thanksgiving reserved for their families, and save their shopping for the rest of the month.