Thoughts and Numbers on Black Friday and Mobile


As you can imagine, there has been a lot of speculation on how much of the Black Friday and Cyber Monday shopping season took place on Mobile.

Black Friday and Cyber Monday Explained

For non-US readers, Black Friday, the day after the US observance of the Thanksgiving holiday, has traditionally been the kickoff of the Christmas shopping season. Many often wonder about how Black Friday got started, and indeed got its name. Here’s a brief explanation from the Black Friday website.

“As retailers began to realize they could draw big crowds by discounting prices, Black Friday became the day to shop, even better than those last minute Christmas sales. … In the 1960’s, police in Philadelphia griped about the congested streets, clogged with motorists and pedestrians, calling it “Black Friday.”

Traditionally, retailers opened their stores at 6AM. Retailers have been progressively expanding their operating hours, even extending them into Thanksgiving. And now people talk about Black Friday Week as stores put more goods on sale in the days leading up to Black Friday, and then continuing those offers over the weekend.

With the advent of digital, Cyber Monday was added to the Black Friday lexicon – a reflection of sales and promotions online that traditionally began three days after Black Friday. Cyber Monday sales have skyrocketed over the years, according to comScore, as the following chart shows:

Cyber Monday Sales Trend

A survey by the Consumer Technology Association showed that digital shopping has an extremely broad appeal:

Among Americans who shopped online this year, 85 percent cited avoiding crowds as their top reason, 79 percent said saving time and 78 percent cited finding better or similar deals online compared to in stores. Interestingly, 57 percent of consumers indicated they chose to shop online to enable them to shop outside of physical store hours.

And now we have Cyber Week to go with Black Friday Week, as all channels and sellers compete for sales across the holiday season.

Black Friday Mobile Shopping Channel Growth

The National Retail Federation (NRF) reports that about 152 million people shopped in stores or online over the long weekend, and that about 121 million were expected to shop online yesterday. And MediaPost has reported the following stats on mobile shopping for Thanksgiving 2015.

On Thanksgiving Day, 40% of all sales were completed on mobile devices (including tablets), but that share is up significantly from last year, when only a third of sales were completed via mobile gadget. Ample evidence that Black Friday mobile shopping is on the upswing. Americans are also showing a willingness to purchase higher-ticket items on their gadgets. On average, smartphone shoppers spent $117.87 on Black Friday, which is up 5% year-over-year.

Since shopping has become largely an omni-channel experience, some of these artificial distinctions don’t make a lot of sense anymore. Item: it’s been widely reported that well over a trillion dollars in retail sales are influenced by mobile. Deloitte says that mobile influences more than half of all the brick and mortar purchases influenced by digital.

deloitte mobile shopping

So even when sales don’t actually take place on a device, the influence of multi-screen access to information and offers is profound. At the time of this writing, IBM’s Benchmark Live analysis of the holiday shopping says shows that 32% of online sales for Cyber Week were occurring on mobile devices, and that 47% of web traffic was flowing from mobile devices.

But again, we do ourselves a disservice to think in silos. Showrooming and webrooming have gained broader and broader consumer acceptance. According to the latest IAB Digital Shopping Report, half of all shoppers, and 2/3 of Millennials, compare prices via smartphone while in retail locations. See below:

iab mobile shopping 1

iab mobile shopping 1

So clearly, brick and mortar, and multi-channel retailers need to think more broadly about sales channels. Black Friday mobile shopping matters, but its true importance is in the context of all shopping, which has become omni-channel. And a more nuanced way of thinking about sales is certainly not lost on America’s retailers.

nrf logo

According to NRF CEO Matthew Shay,

“We recognize the Thanksgiving weekend shopping experience is much different than it used to be as just as many people want that unique, exclusive online deal as they do that in-store promotion,” said NRF President and CEO Matthew Shay. “It is clear that the age-old holiday tradition of heading out to stores with family and friends is now equally matched in the new tradition of looking online for holiday savings opportunities. Retail is in the middle of an incredible revolution and evolution. As a result, NRF evolved what we have traditionally done in terms of examining the holiday weekend shopper to reflect these changing times. As the shopping environment changes so too must our analysis of it,” continued Shay.

NRF has even added a Cyber Monday consumer offers site to help drive additional digital channel sales. NRF also says that retailers are more ready than ever for the consumer shift to mobile shopping and buying.

“Retailers are prepared for a mobile-driven day of shopping and have optimized the mobile shopping experience to make Cyber Monday shopping easier and more dynamic for their customers,” NRF Senior Vice President and Executive Director Vicki Cantrell said. “In addition to a more fluid experience on retailers’ websites and on mobile, consumers can expect to see better shipping offers (visit our website to know more about shipping) and better-than-ever programs for buy online and pick-up in store for those omni channel shoppers.”

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