So what’s going to happen during the holiday shopping season this year? Is Black Friday really the best day for holiday shopping with the best deals?
The answer? It depends.
Read more: 73 shopping malls to close this Thanksgiving
Holiday shopping trends to change from last year
Last year, Thanksgiving and Black Friday had a bit of a slump, with $1.8 billion in sales on Thanksgiving 2015, down from $2 billion in 2014.
But the biggest loser last year was physical brick and mortar stores, with sales falling 10% over the previous year for both Thanksgiving and Black Friday, according to retailer research firm ShopperTrak.
The biggest winner? Online sales. The website Practical eCommerce reported that online sales on Thanksgiving were up 25% last year from the year before, while sales were up slightly over 14% on Black Friday, according to Adobe Digital Index. Another research firm, Custora, showed lower numbers, but still reported double digit increases.
With convenience being such a key benefit to shopping online, you can expect for the online shopping trends to continue, especially as more retailers offer more deals online for Thanksgiving, Black Friday and Cyber Monday. Speaking of which, sales for Cyber Monday also increased by 16% last year over the previous year.
NRF President and CEO Matthew Shay commented, ‘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.’
Should stores be open on Thanksgiving?
Last year, stores were feeling the pressure to be open on Thanksgiving — not just early on Black Friday. But, there were some notable exceptions, such as the outdoor outfitter REI. REI made it clear fairly early that the store would not be open on Thanksgiving, and would also be closed on Black Friday — encouraging its customers to spend time outside and enjoy the company of friends and family.
This year, many stores seem to be following this trend of closing on Thanksgiving. Many people on the Clark.com Facebook page think this is a good idea, but others have some different perspectives.
Margaret on our Facebook page said, ‘(I) dislike any store that opens on Thanksgiving and won’t let their employees be off! Opening early on Black Friday is ok… Spending time with family & friends is the best gift of all.’
Conversely, Rebecca brings up a good point: ‘Some employees like earning time and a half….especially if they are far from loved ones and wouldn’t see them…’
The great thing about online shopping is you get the best of both worlds: The ability to shop on Thanksgiving if you prefer, while watching the bad football and eating turkey and pie — and no one has to actually go to work at a physical store for the transaction to occur.
Clark’s predictions on holiday shopping deals: The Black Friday ‘experience’
No doubt, there has been a huge shift in retail when it comes to how and when people shop. Clark commented about this on the radio show, noting last year’s Thanksgiving and Black Friday slump.
‘Retailers were sitting there with merchandise they’d specifically stocked for Black Friday that they ended up having to mark down because people didn’t come into the stores to buy it. All the life was sucked out by the stores opening on Thanksgiving,’ he said. And on the changing trends for this year, he said, ‘The way people are shopping now is they’re grazing through the days instead of feasting on a single day or a single weekend.’
Black Friday will still be big
However, this doesn’t mean Black Friday is going to the go by the wayside.
‘You’ll still see Black Friday, and to a lesser extent Sunday following Thanksgiving,’ Clark noted. ‘You’ll see those door-buster-y really great deals, typically on third level appliances and electronics, and especially on third level televisions. Laptops that are more basic will be great deals and there will be a bunch of cell phone deals.’
Since we have completely shifted from contracts, Clark thinks there will be a lot of deals throughout the holiday weekend on cell phones.
A smarter way to shop on Black Friday
Clark also talked about the trend of stores offering free in-store pickup for orders that do not meet the free shipping threshold — something we have seen being offered more frequently at ClarkDeals.com.
‘The retailers are gradually becoming more adept and capable of taking the skills and marrying those to the online,’ he said. ‘It will be a time of great bargains and the Black Friday sales day is huge.’
This trend gives people an opportunity to shop even smarter on Black Friday.
‘Don’t feel like you need to go stand in the lines. If there’s doorbusters you can buy online and in the store, the only smart way is to buy online, even if you do later pickup in the store.’
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