Survey: Black Friday sales to increase by 3.8%

Chicago -- Black Friday sales are expected to increase by 3.8% and Cyber Monday sales to grow by 2.5% this holiday season, according to BDO USA’s Retail Compass Survey of CMOs, which polls chief marketing officers at 100 leading U.S. retailers. Black Friday and Cyber Monday expectations are more bullish this year compared with 2009 when both were expected to rise by 1.8%.

Specifically, more than one-third (38%) of CMOs expect Black Friday sales to increase, an uptick from 2009 (33%) and 2008 (16%). Still, the majority of CMOs (59%) say they expect Black Friday sales to be flat this year, a continued trend from 2009 (61%) and 2008 (68%).

For Cyber Monday, most CMOs (74%) say they expect Cyber Monday sales to stay flat for the 2010 holiday season, a continued trend from 2009 (65%) and 2008 (64%). Conversely, almost a quarter of CMOs (24%) forecast an increase.

Sixty-four percent of CMOs expect to see more discounts and promotions this holiday season, according to the survey, which represents a decline from 2009 when 96% said they planned more discounts.

“Higher sales expectations for Black Friday and Cyber Monday indicate that 5 a.m. door-buster holiday sales are still crucial revenue drivers for the retail industry,” said Ted Vaughan, partner, Retail and Consumer Product Practice, BDO USA. “This year, however, retailers may have turned the corner on the bargain-basement prices seen in 2009. Our survey results show that retailers will likely look to create more of a balance in promotional offers this year, slightly scaling back on excessive discounts and targeting more promotions in-stores.”

Other major findings of the survey included that 43% of CMOs say consumer electronics will see the most discounts this year, a continued trend from 2009 (37%). Given that manufacturers are still dealing with inventory glut for products such as flat-panels, deep discounts will likely be the key driver of consumer demand. Fewer CMOs (4% versus 14% in 2009) expect home goods to see the most discounts, a sign that shoppers are moving beyond practical gift items. Other product categories where CMOs expect to see the most discounts include: apparel (30%); jewelry (14%); toys (6%); and lifestyle goods (3%).

More than half (59%) of CMOs are targeting the majority of their discount and promotion offers in stores. Despite the popularity of social media and strength in mobile commerce, only 17% of CMOs are focusing the majority of their discounts and promotions online. Almost one-fourth (24%) are hedging their bets with an equal focus on in-store and online promotions.

The survey also found that the majority of CMOs (56%) plan to focus most heavily on in-store events. Other promotional tactics retailers cite as a major focus include: loyalty programs (21%);, buy-one-get-one-free promotions (9%); pre-Thanksgiving discounts (8%); and extended hours (6%).

When asked what online promotional tactic would yield the most sales this holiday season, 45% of CMOs pointed to e-mail promotions. Retailers are also confident that free shipping (22%) and search-engine marketing (21%) will generate a high number of sales. Despite the popularity of social networking sites, only 10% of CMOs expect promotions through social networking to produce the most sales.

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