The Black Friday Pandemic Makeover

by | 12 October 2020

Black Friday, the most coveted shopping day in retail, is getting a pandemic makeover like everything else this year. Instead of waking up at dawn to wait in line for significant discounts, holiday shoppers will have the benefit of months-long marathon shopping savings starting as early as tomorrow.

By the Numbers

Last year, Black Friday inched ahead of Cyber Monday, as 93.2 million shoppers engaged in online retail activities resulting in a $7.4 billion revenue haul–the biggest sales day ever in Black Friday history. The de facto kick-off to holiday shopping, Black Friday, has been the retail entry point to end-of-year purchases for well over 80 years. The millennium added retail inspired programs, including Cyber Monday (2005), Small Business Saturday (2010), and most recently Giving Tuesday (2012), as a way for each segment to gain exposure when consumers were more likely to open their wallets.

Online spending represented 18.6% of total retail sales for the first half of 2020, a percentage expected to hold, and possibly increase, as the pandemic continues to influence consumers’ return in-store. According to GlobalData, the need for brick and mortar remains strong, as  60% of those purchases made   were also picked up in-store. A sure indicator of how well the retail industry will be making these numbers lies in the 2020 holiday shopping season’s success.

The Longest Holiday Shopping Season Ever

Big-box retailers and department stores such as Home Depot, Macy’s, Target, Walmart, and of course Amazon, are making bold moves to market the super-sized holiday shopping season to attract the broader audiences intent on celebrating but who are also mindful of splurging.

With 49% of consumers planning to begin their holiday shopping before Halloween, global consulting firm AlixPartners suggests holiday shopping will start as early as October. As the reigning monarch in retail, Amazon’s rescheduling of Prime Day – its single day of shopping deals – will launch Tuesday, October 13. Target will also start its sales in mid-October to create a safe and convenient shopping environment without any FOMO.

Home Depot is playing the long game with two-months of shopping savings starting in November and to temper consumer urgency to score the best price, deals will be available both online and in-store. Walmart also revealed its Black Friday Experience this week. Like the other retailers, Walmart will roll-out Black Friday savings throughout the holiday months, heavily featuring its electronics, kitchen appliances, and toy inventory online as part of its Walmart+ membership subscription.

Click and Collect Curbside Pickup

Despite a slump in sales last month, analysts suggest that e-commerce click and collect will be consumers’ first choice for holiday shopping this year. The concept to “buy online, pick up in-store/at curbside” (BOPIS/BOPAC) gained serious traction during the pandemic, with a 62% year-over-year increase of BOPIS usage in March 2020.

Some early adopters, like Walmart and Target, investment in curbside pickup operations contributed to their $77.15 billion in revenue sales last year. Which may have inspired the concept’s adoption by others like Best Buy and IKEA. Retailers that offer the convenience and flexibility of BOPIS/BOPAC are likely to make strides with shopper engagement.

Supporting Small Business

Consumers are committed to supporting local businesses this year. A study conducted by Small Business Trends reports that nearly 1 in 5 (19%) consumers plan to purchase more from small local businesses this holiday season. Think Google corroborates the trend, reporting that 66% of shoppers said they plan to shop more at local small businesses. Local businesses have been ramping up their holiday sales and upping their social media game in anticipation of the extra foot traffic to Main Street shopping corridors.

Giving Back Thursday

One of the more positive by-products and impacts of the pandemic on the holiday season is retailers’ prioritizing their staff and their families. Amid safety and security concerns for employees, many retailers have chosen to remain closed for Thanksgiving, including Best Buy, Dick’s Sporting Goods, Kohl’s, Ulta, and others. Now, that’s something to be thankful for this holiday season.

As retailers lean toward optimizing for savings and the shift in shopping behaviors to maximize consumer spending, Q4 may very well establish itself as the retail sweetheart of the holiday shopping season.