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Report: Black Friday performance not barometer for season

BY Katherine Boccaccio

Solihull, England — Visitor analytics provider Experian FootFall said Thursday that Black Friday’s retail performance isn’t necessarily an indication of how the holiday season will fare.

According to FootFall, the 2011 calendar shift could impact consumer behavior this season, potentially transferring the large majority of shopping trips and consumer spending to later in the season. Because Christmas falls on a Sunday, historical performance suggests the week leading up to the holiday will be crucial for retailers, containing several of the top spending days this holiday shopping season.

“The 2011 calendar shift will most likely place added emphasis on the days leading into Christmas as procrastinating shoppers could spend heavily on the Thursday and Friday leading into Christmas weekend,” said Gary Whittemore, global development director of Experian FootFall. “Although Black Friday is still very important and will once again be one of the top performing days, in reality many retailers will have the opportunity to recover from a slower start by reviewing historical performance and effectively preparing stores to capitalize on this late season rush.”

The company predicts that three of the top performing days of the holiday shopping season could fall in the seven day period from Dec. 17 – 24, including Dec. 17 (Saturday), Dec. 22 (Thursday) and Dec. 23 (Friday).

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BDO USA: Retailers forecast small uptick on Black Friday, Cyber Monday

BY Katherine Boccaccio

Chicago — According to a BDO USA survey of 100 CMOs at leading U.S. retailers, just 27% expect to see an increase in Black Friday sales, down from 38% in 2010.

Similarly, only 24% project an increase in Cyber Monday sales, with the vast majority (74%) expecting flat sales. Overall, CMOs project a 1.6% increase in Black Friday sales (down from 3.8% in 2010) and a 2.5% increase in Cyber Monday sales.

The vast majority of CMOs (78%) said they expect to see more discounts and promotions overall this holiday season compared to last year. This is up 21% from 2010 when 64% of retailers said they expected to see more discounting.

“Black Friday is not disappearing, but deal-fatigued shoppers have been there and done that,” said Ted Vaughan, partner in the Retail and Consumer Product Practice at BDO USA, LLP. “With new promotional strategies and earlier discounting, retailers are looking to create more spending triggers to get an edge and keep inventory moving throughout the season.”

Other major findings of the BDO Retail Compass Survey of CMOs include: 42% of CMOs are equally focusing promotions and discounts online and in stores this year – a dramatic change from 2010 when 59% said they were focusing the majority of promotions and discounts just in stores.

Most CMOs (51%) expect retailers will offer the most discounts in the electronics category this year, followed by apparel (25%).

When asked what online promotional tactic will convert the most sales this season, CMOs are split between email promotions (28%), search engine marketing (26%) and the ever-popular free shipping (23%). Promotions via social media are seen as the top sales tool for another 18% of CMOs, up 80% from 2010 (10%).

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Survey: E-commerce sales to grow to $46.7 billion for holiday 2011

BY Katherine Boccaccio

New York City – E-commerce sales in the U.S. for the November and December holiday shopping season will rise 16.8% to $46.7 billion in 2011, up from $39.9 billion last year and representing a pace five times faster than total retail industry growth, according to eMarketer.

That means online sales growth will reach double digits for the third consecutive year, even though the economy remains shaky and consumers are keeping tight budgets.

“E-commerce has been insulated from the lingering effects of the recession and has even benefitted from price-conscious consumers’ reliance on the internet to save money,” said Jeffrey Grau, eMarketer principal analyst and author of the new report, “Online Holiday Sales Forecast: Savings and Convenience Will Drive Strong Growth.”

By comparison, eMarketer said it believes total retail sales in the United States will see meager growth of about 3% this holiday season.

Strong online holiday spending will boost e-commerce sales to $195 billion for the year, up 16.5% over 2010, according to the report. Holiday sales will account for almost a quarter (23.9%) of online sales in 2011, underlining the importance that November and December have on many retailers’ annual e-commerce sales.

As a result of strong growth, e-commerce’s share of total retail sales is gradually increasing, with the biggest gains taking place during the holiday season. In 2010, e-commerce accounted for 5.7% of sales from January through October, but jumped to 7.4% for the holiday season, eMarketer estimated.

Online holiday sales will get a boost from smartphone and tablet users, Grau said.

“Mobile shoppers are having a noticeable influence on holiday sales,” added Grau. “Given the fast growth in device ownership — especially tablet ownership — it is likely that retailers will report significant online sales coming from mobile users this holiday season.”

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