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Black Friday Store Traffic Down But Online Sales are Up

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This year, Black Friday store traffic went down 52% as people stayed indoors. But that doesn’t mean sales went down at the same rate. Instead, people stayed indoors, fired up the internet, and went online shopping. Consequently, online sales helped make up the slack, rising 21% for the year. 

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In contrast to previous years, malls stayed mostly empty. Gone are the full parking lots as early as dawn, when people would line up well before opening time. For example, Minnesota’s Mall of America lost 80% of its traditional foot traffic. Some outlets reported traffic picking up later in the afternoon, especially at the outlet and open area shops. 

Spreading out their Shopping

According to Sensormatic Solutions, Black Friday traffic went down by more than half, . Americans stayed home in fear of coronavirus infections. Instead of braving the crowds and queueing, shoppers stayed home to buy online.

Sensormatic’s Brian Field said they see holiday season traffic to drop 23.5% year over year. “We knew Black Friday was going to be down, we just didn’t know how much it was going to be down. Shoppers are spreading out their shopping throughout the holiday season because of concerns about social distancing and the pandemic,” he said.

Online Spending

Online spending totaled $9 billion during Black Friday. This represented a 21.6% increase from last year’s $7.4 billion to become the new holiday record. According to Adobe Analytics, this is the second biggest one-day online spend in US retail history. The biggest single-day online shopping remains Cyber Monday in 2019. This year’s Cyber Monday is slated to grow 15 to 35% and rake in $10.8 to $12.7 billion dollars. 

The most popular items sold were HP laptops, Apple watches, kid scooters. Meanwhile, Shopify reported that total sales from its 1 million partners made $2.4 billion. This global total is an increase of 75% from last year’s Black Friday. Cloud computing company Salesforce noted that retailers with added service got the advantage.

Stores with drive-through and store pickup earned 19% more revenue than retailers who didn’t.

Cyber Month

The pandemic disrupted all plans to implement door-busting deals due to pandemic concerns. Earlier this year, retailers had a difficult time managing crowds during outbreaks. Traditional Black Friday crowds are usually double the size. They also end up in a free-for-all among customers, especially on in-demand items.

This year, retailers retooled their strategy and blew up any gameplan. Major retail chains closed on Thanksgiving and encouraged online shopping. Instead of a weekend sale centered on Black Friday, they offered promos the whole month.  while online deals began a month earlier. Andy Mantis, 1010data insights head noted the change. “From the data, we’re tracking, instead of just a Big Bang on Black Friday weekend, we’re seeing what’s becoming more of a Cyber Month. It kicked off with Prime Day in October, and is continuing.”

Retailers Win

The major chains scored big online. Target’s US online sales are up 156%, according to Edison Trends. Meanwhile, Walmart recorded a 120% increase for November. Target led a group of retailers including Amazon, Best Buy, eBay, and Etsy. Large retailers’ Thanksgiving and Black Friday online sales grew 403% versus October. Meanwhile, smaller retailers went up 349% for smaller retailers. Salesforce listed the most mentioned outlets in social media like Amazon, Best Buy, GameStop, Target, and Walmart.

According to the National Retail Foundation,  42% of shoppers said they started holiday shopping earlier. The NRF predicts that holiday sales this year will rise between 3.6% and 5.2%  versus their 2019 performance. Meanwhile, online and non-store sales will increase between 20% and 30%.

Going Solo

Dana Telsey, CEO of Telsey Advisory Group, says it’s also time to go solo when shopping. “I don’t think you’re going to see a lot of people today. I think people are going to shop online,” he told CNBC Friday. “It just isn’t going to be the same type of holiday season because you don’t have the ability to interact with other people. You’re going solo. That’s what holiday 2020′s about.”

Watch the CNBC news report on how department stores are handling Black Friday during the pandemic:

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Did you do your Black Friday shopping online, or did you venture out to the store? Were you able to get the items you wanted? Which experience do you think is better for the consumer? Let us know what you think about the new holiday shopping experience. Share your thoughts in the comment section below.

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