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Did You Get the Black Friday and Cyber Monday Message from Consumers?

Posted By Administration, Thursday, December 10, 2015
Updated: Wednesday, December 9, 2015


Another Black Friday and Cyber Monday have come and gone, and both the sales figures and consumer behavior data should serve as a wake-up call for the retail industry. Let's dive into some of the numbers.

Online spending on Cyber Monday 2015 couldn't maintain the torrid pace established over the weekend when sales increased 26 percent on Saturday and Sunday compared to 2014. But Cyber Monday sales were still up 18 percent, according to IBM. Data from Adobe Systems Inc. shows that total Cyber Monday sales exceeded $3 billion, with nearly $800 million coming from mobile devices.

A National Retail Federation survey found that more than 103 million people shopped online over the course of the weekend. Fewer than 102 million shopped in brick-and-mortar stores. A report from ShopperTrak shows that in-store sales dropped 10.4 percent.

Of course, not all retailers were prepared for such an enormous spike in online traffic, which doubled previous traffic records in some cases. The websites of a number of major retailers went down briefly and many customers were forced to deal with an abnormally slow checkout process. According to Adobe, out-of-stocks doubled their normal rate, with 13 of 100 product views showing an "out-of-stock" notification.

15 percent of online purchases were made using smartphones, and 12.4 percent were made on tablets, according to the NRF. IBM found that purchases made on smartphones increased 75 percent and surpassed online spending on tablets for the first time.

Nearly eight in 10 shoppers use their mobile devices when shopping brick-and-mortar retail stores, according to survey from Deloitte and Statista. 55 percent compare prices and 45 percent research products and find coupons.

A survey from the International Council of Shopping Centers tells us that shoppers are doing their research before they go to the mall so they can get in and out as quickly as possible. On Black Friday, shoppers visited an average of 3.3 stores and made a purchase at an average of 2.8 stores. Consumers know what they want before they get to the store.

However, a very small percentage of sales is coming from social media. Facebook, Instagram, Pinterest, Twitter and other social platforms drove only 1.7 percent of Black Friday sales. On the other hand, traditional e-mail promotions continue to deliver ROI and drove 25 percent of online orders on Black Friday.

There are few important takeaways from this data. We've reached a tipping point with online vs. in-store shopping. Most experts predicted a rise in online and mobile sales, but nobody predicted such a dramatic increase. Retail industry stakeholders need to pay attention to the messages sent by consumers over the holiday weekend.

First, the majority of consumers now prefer to shop online. Second, when they do go to the store, they want to spend less time there. Third, consumers are no longer just comparing prices with their mobile devices. They're buying with their mobile devices.

These trends shouldn't shock anyone. The folks who have been taking their time in developing and improving their omni-channel strategy and beefing up their online and mobile offerings are at serious risk of being left behind. The folks who continue to cling to an unsustainable model for the physical retail store risk becoming obsolete.

Retailers, suppliers and service providers need to collaborate and figure out how to capitalize on online and mobile shopping and adapt the brick-and-mortar shopping model. That's where RVCF comes into the picture. We want to bring industry stakeholders together to answer some key questions.

How do we solve the out-of-stock problem on the busiest shopping days of the year?

How do we solve the issues that contribute to a negative online shopping experience during this time?

What strategies for improving online and mobile sales need to be cultivated? Why isn't social media driving more sales?

How can the in-store shopping model be changed? Should retailers that don't compete with each other join forces? Should the mall become a giant open space with different kiosks for different brands and stores? What is the best way to reduce store footprints and make better use of in-store real estate?

We need to hear from you. What did you do well during the holiday weekend and what weaknesses were exposed? What are your ideas for building on strengths and correcting weaknesses? What more do you need from trading partners and service providers? Visit the RVCF forum boards and share your thoughts, ideas and concerns about taking advantage of online and mobile shopping and improving the in-store model.

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Tags:  Black Friday  Cyber Monday  e-commerce  Holiday 2015  Omni-Channel 

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"Bleak" Friday 2015: A Perilous Season Ahead for Retailers?

Posted By Administration, Thursday, December 10, 2015
Updated: Wednesday, December 9, 2015

by Dwight D. Hill, McMillan Doolittle LLP

On a rainy, cold Black Friday two weeks ago I went to one of the local malls to check out the crowds. I was shocked – I drove right up to one of the department stores, walked in and saw neat displays with very few crowds. I had to check my watch to make sure I had the date correct! The crowds came later, but brick-and-mortar traffic was definitely down for Black Friday 2015. According to Shoppertrak, in store sales were down 10.4% versus 2014.1 So what is happening? Will it be a "blue" Christmas for retailers? Here's some perspective on the retail trends we're witnessing:

1. Promotion creep. Black Friday promotions have crept over the years earlier and earlier in the month of November, with many beginning this year on November 1st. The result is an incredible dilution of the Thanksgiving shopping weekend. Combined with Thanksgiving Day openings, the pie is simply divided over a greater amount of time. The result: The sales over the holiday weekend appear softer.

2. The shift online continues. Why wait in line or get out the door at 4:00 am when you can shop online? This year, the trend hit a record – Thanksgiving Day through Cyber Monday netted a record $11 billion in sales, a 15% increase over 2014 according to Adobe.2 Cyber Monday also turned out to be one for the record books – it was the largest online sales day in history, hitting $3 billion in sales.3 These online sales certainly influence brick-and-mortar sales, but when it comes to Black Friday crowds, it looks like a lot of folks chose to avoid the madness and shop online instead. The result: Retailers' e-commerce businesses will set sales records, with margins pressured by all of that free shipping.

3. Third quarter sales were soft. We saw a who's who list of retailers including Macy's, Best Buy, and Nordstrom report disappointing quarterly results recently. What this means is inventories are likely higher than planned, which means a raucous promotional holiday season ahead, particularly later in the month if sales don't materialize as planned. The result: Yet more margin pressure to clear through holiday inventories.

So will we hit all of those holiday sales predictions? We will see, but one perilous fact is certain – retailers' margins this year will certainly be in a race to the bottom.


Dwight D. Hill, whose background includes leadership roles with Neiman Marcus and Deloitte LLP, is Partner, McMillan Doolittle LLP. Dwight can be reached at Learn more about our services and perspectives on retail by visiting us at

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Tags:  Black Friday  Brick-and-Mortar  Cyber Monday  Holiday 2015  Omni-Channel 

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