Saturday December 7, 2013
Click here if you just want to skip to a Roundup of 2013 Thanksgiving Day, Black Friday Week, and Cyber Monday Week Statistics >>
Wading through hundreds of stats from retail sales reports about brick-and-mortar, online Internet, and mobile sales for Thanksgiving Day, Black Friday, and Cyber Monday reveals some major statistical conflicts. Just one week after the biggest shopping week of the 2013 retail holiday shopping season ended, it has already been analyzed from every angle imaginable. But from any one limited perspective, it doesn't seem like the U.S. retail industry is being given enough credit for sales successes from a long-term perspective, nor for successfully pulling off one of the most dramatic shifts in consumer behavior in U.S. retail industry history.
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Crashing through the Black Friday boundary into Thanksgiving Day shopping was a Berlin Wall moment for the U.S. retail industry. Pulling off an amalgamated Thanksgiving-Eve-Day-Black-Friday-Weekend-Cyber-Monday-Week shopping event extravaganza was not only operationally challenging for the largest U.S. retail chains, it was psychologically jarring for American consumers. Black Friday was not just a tradition to some American consumers, it was akin to a religious experience, in that Black Friday shopping rituals were practiced by millions of shoppers rather religiously, without fail, every year. Messing with Black Friday shopping meant messing with the minds of millions.
In essence, the U.S. retail industry collectively communicated "Black Friday? Yeah, we're not doing that any more." And millions of American started exhibiting post-traumatic shopping syndrome symptoms in response.
It was difficult for shoppers to get their head around the new norm for Thanksgiving-Eve-Day-Black-Friday-Weekend-Cyber-Monday-Week shopping, which basically removed all boundaries and rules that had guided Black Friday Week consuming behavior in years past. This year traditional Black Friday gave way to a consuming free-for-all week, punctuated by some in-store consumer bad behavior that reflects what happens when mobs of people are still trying to play a game after the rules and boundaries have been removed.
Every big change is preceded by chaos, so "they" say.
So now we are seeing a similar psychological change management challenge with the analysis of the Thanksgiving-Eve-Day-Black-Friday-Weekend-Cyber-Monday-Week. Sales results and stats for 2013 are being extrapolated and compared as if the old rules of the old game still apply. A year-over-year comparison between Thanksgiving-Eve-Day-Black-Friday-Weekend-Cyber-Monday-Week in 2013 with the 2012 results of five clearly defined retail shopping one-day events is invalid in so many ways. Most of the 2013 Thanksgiving-Eve-Day-Black-Friday-Weekend-Cyber-Monday-Week conclusions that have been drawn so far based on incomparable data are unhelpful at best and misleading at most.
A good example of unhelpful and misleading comparisons is the comparison of sales and statistics between Black Friday 2012 and Black Friday 2013. Of course Black Friday 2013 sales results in physical retail stores decreased in a year-over-year comparison because all the deals, discounts, and doorbuster promotional events that drove Black Friday 2012 redirected consumer traffic and sales to Thanksgiving Day in 2013. What did anyone expect would be the result of the most massive marketing and promotion shift in recent U.S. history?
So, the only valid comparison is a combined two-day comparison of year-over-year sales performance, which has not been and may not be provided by many of the analyzing organizations that compile and report Black Friday Week sales results each year. But from the few sources of two-day Thanksgiving-Black Friday data that's been reported, here's what we do know:
- Sales increased 2.3% to $12.3 billion overall for the combined Thanksgiving Day - Black Friday shopping marathon, according to ShopperTrak. This makes any Black Friday sales decrease and any conclusions based on a Black Friday decrease irrelevant.
- Shopper traffic to physical retail stores over the two-day Thanksgiving and Black Friday period in 2013 was more than 1.07 billion visits, which represents a 2.3% increase over 2013. This gives Thanksgiving Day shopping traffic surges, and Black Friday shopping traffic declines a meaningful context.
Individually, Thanksgiving Day and Black Friday year-over-year comparisons are meaningless because the rules, the boundaries, and the game were completely different year-over-year. Tight budgets and cautious consumer spending weren't the cause of the Black Friday sales decrease. Aggressive marketing that purposefully changed consumer behavior away from Black Friday was the cause.
But that's not even the most misinterpreted of the 2013 Thanksgiving-Eve-Day-Black-Friday-Weekend-Cyber-Monday-Week sales results reports.
When the Johnson Redbook Sales Index reported that sales at the largest U.S. retail chains decreased 0.2% in November 2013, compared to October, 2013 the conclusion drawn by many was that this figure was proof that the Thanksgiving-Eve-Day-Black-Friday-Weekend-Cyber-Monday-Week was a retail industry failure.
We haven't seen any measurements or analysis of the year-over-year increase in holiday deals marketing that was going on in October 2013 that helped create the 0.4% retail sales increase that month. Everyone seems to also have forgotten that 2013 Christmas shopping promotions started this year as soon as 2013 Back-to-School sales promotions were over. Everyone seems to have ignored the NRF survey in November which revealed that 53.8% of shoppers said they had started their Christmas shopping in October.
Additionally, any comparison of November 2013 sales and November 2012 sales is invalid in the base case since Cyber Monday was in November last year and the sales from the biggest Cyber Monday in the history of online shopping will be part of December sales in 2013. So any year-over-year analysis of Thanksgiving-Eve-Day-Black-Friday-Weekend-Cyber-Monday-Week 2013 is only going to be relevant as a quarterly comparison. Otherwise we're just trying to make sense of statistical apples and oranges. The comparisons are not valid, the conclusions are not accurate, and the churn of both is not relevant.
This is not to imply that the data that has been offered by a number of different analytical sources is inaccurate, even though the obvious conflicts in stats might lead you to doubt that any of it definitively represents "truth." It's just that micro data is no longer going to produce relevant conclusions because there's nothing micro about the new Christmas holiday shopping season conglomeration of marketing promotions which have no definite start or end date.
New rules require new measures of success. Single day measurement tools can't be used to appropriately measure multi-week promotional efforts. Black Friday sales and traffic was down in 2013? So what?
There were umpteen promotions before and after Black Friday that pre-empted it. Retailers no longer care which of the 92 days of the last calendar quarter that consumers make purchases as long as they make purchases. And, as predicted about Thanksgiving Day shopping, consumers are continuing to prove that they don't care when they get the great deals as long as they get the great deals. Fabricated retail boundaries are not sacred any more because consumers continue to demonstrate their willingness to cross those traditional boundaries.
There is, however, one reported Black Friday statistic that leaps out with its own relevance and its own conclusions. That is, that 70% of the purchases made by individual consumers on Black Friday were made in the first two stores they visited on that day, according to MasterCard Advisors. This is a very valuable piece of statistical information for retail industry marketers (who probably knew it already).
This is why it paid for retail chains like Macy's to join the Thanksgiving Malliday in 2013, despite initial public backlash. And even though polls, surveys and reports predicted that there would be widespread consumer rejection of Thanksgiving store openings in general and Macy's specifically, my own non-scientific Thanksgiving Day shopping consumer poll concluded otherwise. When asked what they thought about Macy's opening stores on Thanksgiving Day 2013, 35% of my poll respondents said that thought that consumers should give Macy's a break for its Thanksgiving Day store hours and 39% said they believe that Macy's and every other store should be able to open or close when it wants to. The aggregate approval of 74% in this straw poll doesn't seem very resistent to me.
So at this point, what can we validly conclude about the success or failure of the 2013 Thanksgiving-Eve-Day-Black-Friday-Weekend-Cyber-Monday-Week based on the current results, surveys and stats? Not much. Not yet.
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At this point any conclusions drawn based on Thanksgiving Day, Black Friday, Black Weekend, Cyber Monday, or Cyber Week figures are not much different from 2013 Christmas holiday shopping predictions. They provide hints about what the conclusions might be if certain things continue happening, but they provide no conclusions in and of themselves. Not yet.
Until the newly fashioned Christmas holiday shopping quarter is concluded, the measurements are much statistical ado about nothing. But that doesn't mean the voracious appetites of the numbers-hungry watchers of the U.S. retail industry will not want to do some stat crunching now anyway. So here it is... Roundup of Retail Sales Results for the 2013 Christmas Holiday Shopping Season >> For those who love retail industry measurements, this sales report roundup is a holiday gift that will keep on giving.
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Thursday November 28, 2013
Click here to skip directly to the complete list of Black Friday 2013 Store Opening Times and Store Hours >>
What time do stores open and Black Friday Doorbuster Deal sales start? It's a very good question. The fact that Black Friday shoppers are still asking it on November 29, 2013, though, is a sure sign that where there was once Black Friday frenzy, there is now Black Friday confusion.
When they ask about Apple, Best Buy, Costco and Walmart store hours specifically, and Black Friday Doorbuster Deal start times in general, what most consumers are really asking are two things:
1) Which stores are STILL open after Thanksgiving Day store openings?
2) Are there any stores on Black Friday where I can still snag some of those traditionally amazing Black Friday freebies, deals and discounts?
Black Friday shoppers will like the answer to question number one. Almost all of the store that opened on Thanksgiving - which is a large list compared to the list of retail stores NOT open on Thanksgiving Day - are remaining open throughout the night, into the wee hours of Black Friday morning, and all the way through to extended closing hours on Black Friday evening.
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So basically, Black Friday shoppers who want to shop at Best Buy, jcpenney, Walmart, Kmart, Kohl's, Sears, Target, etc. can set their alarm for any time that suits them, show up at the doors of most of the largest U.S. retail chains which had their stores opened on Thanksgiving Day, and be welcomed inside by some weary, bleary, caffeine-hyped holiday temp employees.
The strategic Black Friday shopping game plan will be much more self-directed by Black Friday shoppers than ever before on November 29th, since so much of the Black Friday Doorbuster Deal frenzy morphed into Thanksgiving Day Doorbuster Deals. This is the not-so-popular answer to question #2 above. The time to start snagging a vast majority of the traditional Black Friday freebies, almost free merchandise, and thousands of Thanksgiving Day Doorbuster Deals has passed, and just like coming late for Thanksgiving dinner, Black Friday shoppers will have to hope that there's some good leftovers besides the brussels sprouts.
Of course there ARE still Black Friday Doorbuster Deals and early bird sales on November 29th. Most retailers didn't want to completely abandon their loyal Black Friday bargain hunting shoppers, so they made sure to stage double Doorbusters and in-store Black Friday-only events.
Related: All Black Friday Doorbuster Deals and Sales Start Times on December 29, 2013 >>
For instance, Toys 'R Us scheduled multiple Doorbuster Deal start times, including 5:00 AM, as its REAL in-store Black Friday sales event. Sears and Kmart stores also scheduled multiple Doorbuster Deal events, the earliest on Black Friday being at 6:00 AM for both chains. After its 6:00 PM Thanksgiving Day Doorbuster Deals are probably long gone, Walmart is allowing its Black Friday shoppers to stroll in on Black Friday morning at a leisurely 8:00 AM for some in-store early bird sale items.
Most Apple retail stores are expected to open at 6:00 AM and the still unconfirmed rumor is that the Apple Black Friday deal of the deal is free gift cards with purchase. Rival Microsoft is opening many of its retail store locations at midnight.
Best Buy didn't advertise any Doorbuster Deals that are being saved specifically for its Black Friday customers, but did indicate that there will be "Midnight Mystery Doorbusters" made available. I guess Best Buy and Apple Black Friday shoppers are expected to show up on faith that there will be some Black Friday deal for which worth staying up late or getting up early os worth the effort.
And speaking of leisurely, it's such an a retail anomaly to watch warehouse retailers like Costco, Sam's, and Bj's practically ignore the Black Friday phenomenon altogether each year. They just don't get twirled up about it, and don't pin their entire year's profitability on just one week. Membership fee income helps, but there's still something admirable about retailers that make good use of the other 51 weeks of the year.
Sam's will be giving its members a free breakfast on Black Friday starting at 7:00 AM. Costco will be giving its members a free cookbook starting at 9:00 AM. BJ's doesn't seem to be doing anything special or even changing its store hours. Refreshing, isn't it?
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It's going to look and feel different than any Black Friday in the history of American retailing, but Black Friday 2013 is still a huge U.S. retail industry calendar event, and still a day-after Thanksgiving shopper tradition. Here's some more helpful research for those consumers doing some last-minute Black Friday strategizing...
More About Black Friday, November 29, 2013 Retailing:
Where to Look For Some Yummy Thanksgiving Day Doorbuster Leftovers:
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Thursday November 28, 2013
Here's the executive summary of Thanksgiving Day 2013 Deals that last-minute Thanksgiving Day shoppers who want a roundup of the best freebies, nearly free products, Doorbuster deals, and Thanksgiving Day specials which are on sale inside the brick-and-mortar stores of the world's largest retailers on November 28, 2013:
And, of course, those who were interested in any of the previous links are probably interested in this one too...
2013 Thanksgiving Day Store Openings and Hours >>
And to clear up the last bit of confusion, it's a good idea for consumers to know which retail chains will NOT be opening their physical stores at all during the 24-hour period of Thanksgiving Day, November 28, 2013:
All Stores NOT Open Thanksgiving Day 2013 >>
It would be a particularly annoying thing for consumers to grudgingly leave a Thanksgiving Day gathering in order to grab a good deal only to find out that all of the employees of their favorite retail store still have the day off.
After the last-minute questions about Thanksgiving Day Deals and store opening hours have been answered, there's only one question that remains. Why are shoppers still researching the Thanksgiving Day deals being offered in physical retail stores late in the afternoon of November 28th? The Thanksgiving Day store opening announcements from Macy's and some of the largest U.S. retail chains started weeks ago. The combo Thanksgiving Day - Black Friday ads have been "leaked" since October. Why the last-minute Thanksgiving Day sale research?
The shift to Thanksgiving Day Store Openings has put consumers in an impossible position. Thanksgiving Day 2013 is the Sophie's Choice of American holidays. I suspect there have been millions of to-shop-or-not-to-shop philosophical discussions happening in Thanksgiving Day gatherings across the U.S. all day today. And that is nothing compared to the Thanksgiving Day shopping debates that are going on inside the heads of American consumers who love their Thanksgiving Day family traditions as much as they loved (past tense intended) their Black Friday traditions.
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The question is whether major U.S. retailers and malls with stores open Thanksgiving Day have amassed a collection of Thanksgiving Day freebies, deeply discounted products, and limited-time, limited-quantity Doorbuster deals that is motivating enough to win the Thanksgiving shopping undecided vote.
The one retail chain seems to have been most successful at choosing, pricing, and advertising its Thanksgiving Day deals is Best Buy. Early reports indicate that Best Buy has successfully attracted deal-loving campers and substantial early bird lineups at its stores, despite the day on the calendar page. Not only are Best Buy bargain hunters willing to give up part of their Thanksgiving holiday in order to snag a Thanksgiving Day Doorbuster deal at Best Buy, they are willing to give up their entire Thanksgiving holiday to sit on the concrete sidewalks in all sorts of weather, just the same as shoppers have been doing on Black Friday for years.
This is not good news to the Thanksgiving Day conscientious objectors who are hoping that consumer resistance to Thanksgiving Day shopping will cause it to die an early death and reinstate Black Friday shopping to its former glory. Unfortunately, that is unlikely. Even though governments have been overturned by organized resistance, it's unlikely that American capitalistic trends will be as easy to dethrone.
Retailers are hoping that there will be a lot of deal-lovin' American consumers who will make a last-minute decision to jump in the car and head to the mall to snag the Thanksgiving Day deal on "just one thing," who will not return home again until well after breakfast on Black Friday. (Remember Sam's Club is serving free breakfast on Black Friday morning starting at 7:00 a.m.) The question is whether those same retailers have facilitated that last-minute change of heart for conflicted and undecided Thanksgiving Day shoppers well enough.
Of course there are millions of shoppers who will stand by their Black Friday tradition in 2013, despite the Thanksgiving Day deal temptations and not start their Black Friday sale treasure hunt until after the clock strikes midnight. Unlike previous Black Fridays when shoppers were hoping they would be early enough to grab the deals they wanted the most, Black Friday 2013 shoppers are hoping that there will be some Thanksgiving Day deal leftovers to be grabbed. Unfortunately for many retail chains, there are sure to be a larger than usual number of shoppers who walk away from their stores on Black Friday empty-handed and sadly disappointed. Or angrily disappointed. Disappointed for sure.
But you never know. It's a new Black Friday Week paradigm and no one can predict for sure how the Thanksgiving Day-Black Friday game will play out and who will be the big winners and losers. For the consumers who will be starting their after-midnight Black Friday sale treasure hunt, here are some last-minute resources they'll be looking for:
Of course the Thanksgiving Day-Black Friday to-shop-or-not-to-shop controversy in 2013 is likely to drive American consumers to retail shopping websites in unprecedented numbers during Thanksgiving-Black-Friday-Cyber-Monday Week. Perhaps that is the master marketing plan that has been planned behind retail boardroom doors all along.
Regardless of where shoppers make their purchases, retailers like Walmart, Target, Best Buy, Toys 'R Us and Macy's just want the purchases to happen. Here are some of the resources that Internet and mobile shoppers will be searching for:
Whatever shoppers decide to do or not to do today, hopefully they will remember to do or not do it in the spirit of the day, which is thanks-giving and happiness.
Happy Thanksgiving to you and yours.
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Thursday November 28, 2013
Click here if you just want to see All Thanksgiving Day Store Opening Times and Store Hours >>
"What are the store opening times and store hours for Thanksgiving Day, November 28, 2013?"
Whether you are a frugal bargain shopper, retail manager, temporary holiday retail employee, retail investor, retail analyst, or someone who is normally not much interested in the U.S. retail industry most of the year, during Black Friday week, everyone is a consumer. And with Thanksgiving Day store openings upstaging the day after Thanksgiving shopping (a/k/a Black Friday) in an unprecedented way in 2013, the store opening times and store hours for Thanksgiving Day have been the topic of millions of conversations.
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Really what people want to know when they ask the question about the store hours and opening times of U.S. retailers on November 28, 2013, is when will the Thanksgiving Day Doorbuster Sales and Deals begin? Black Friday, as American shoppers have known it, has ceased to be. It's a sad thing, and undoubtedly U.S. consumers will take a while to mourn the loss of the Black Friday tradition.
But the fact of the matter is the shoppers who wait until after midnight on Thanksgiving to start their annual frenzied quest for Black Friday freebies, nearly free deals, and electronics discounts more than 50% off will probably be sadly disappointed to find that they have all been snatched up by the shoppers who had no qualms about spending part of their Thanksgiving Day spending.
Undoubtedly the big winner in Thanksgiving Day physical store openings will be online shopping websites. And undoubtedly the largest U.S. retail chains have no problem with that at all. Really, they just want to sell merchandise and make the 40% of their annual profit that the Christmas holiday shopping season generally yields. If objections to malls open on Thanksgiving Day leads shoppers to snag pre-Thanksgiving Day Black Friday Week deals online, retailers don't really mind.
Sales are sales and it doesn't really matter to the largest U.S. retail chains if those sales happen before, during, or after the traditional Black Friday. And even though there is a significant portion of American consumers who have vowed to boycott retail stores open on Thanksgiving Day, nobody has really threatened to boycott the entire Christmas holiday shopping season. Until that happens, retailers will continue to change the rules of the Black Friday game in any way that they deem to be profitable.
And that's the bottom line for Thanksgiving Day and Black Friday shopping in 2013. The rules of the Black Friday game have changed. The end. There are plenty of American consumers who liked the old Black Friday rules and the old Black Friday game and want them back. But as with all parts of life, the world, and the Universe, things evolve and people, no matter how resistant, eventually adjust and evolve with the change.
Welcome to the new normal for day-after-Thanksgiving shopping, which now also includes Thanksgiving Day, Thanksgiving Eve, and every day after Halloween. It may be hard to believe, but sometime in the not too distant future American consumers might come to believe that the changes are not that bad.
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More About the New Thanksgiving and Black Friday Shopping Traditions:
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