MARKETING/SOCIAL MEDIA

ShopperTrak: Store traffic up 2.8% on Thanksgiving and Black Friday

BY Marianne Wilson

Chicago — Shoppers visited more stores and spent more money across the days of Thanksgiving Day and Black Friday (Nov. 28 and 29) than they did last year, according to ShopperTrak.

When compared to Thanksgiving and Black Friday last year, brick-and-mortar shopper traffic increased 2.8%, to more than 1.07 billion store visits. Retail sales also increased by 2.3%, as shoppers spent an estimated total of $12.3 billion across the two days.

But the numbers tell a very different story when viewing only data for Black Friday (Nov. 29). When compared to Black Friday last year, brick-and-mortar shopper traffic fell 11.4% and retail sales also decreased by 13.2%.

“The Black Friday shopping experience is changing with more shoppers choosing to go out on Thanksgiving Day,” said Bill Martin, ShopperTrak founder. “Consumers increasingly research products online before entering stores. When they arrive, customers know exactly what they want to buy – retailers now need to make their experience a satisfying one.”

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SUPPLY CHAIN

Report: Amazon plans drone-based delivery

BY Dan Berthiaume

Seattle – Amazon.com hopes to someday deliver packages to its customers using unmanned drone aircraft.

According to numerous media reports, Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos said during an interview on the TV news program 60 Minutes aired Dec.1 that the company is currently testing the use of drones to pick up customer orders in buckets from fulfillment centers to enable delivery within 30 minutes of a customer executing an online transaction.

Bezos reportedly hopes the drone delivery service, which will be called Prime Air, will be operational within four years. However, current Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) regulations prohibit drone usage except by military, law enforcement and private hobbyists. Congress did order the FAA to develop guidelines for private commercial drone usage in 2012, and the FAA has said it plans to have those regulations in place by 2015.

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FINANCE

Report: Online sales to reach $508 billion by 2020

BY Dan Berthiaume

West Palm Beach, Fla. — U.S. online retail sales will reach $508 billion by 2020, representing a market share of nearly 14% (or 17%, if food retailing is excluded), compared to expected online sales of $260 billion in 2013. According to a new report from FTI Consulting, this represents a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of nearly 11% from 2012 through 2020.

FTI Consulting raised its previous online sales forecast by approximately 10% to reflect stronger than anticipated online sales beginning in late 2012. FTI Consulting attributes much of the amplified pace of online sales to the proliferation of tablet computers, which have facilitated online commerce for millions of users.

FTI Consulting analyzed the portion of adjusted General Merchandise, Apparel and Accessories, Furniture and Other Sales ("GAFO") sales that were attributable to the non-store channel, including both online and catalog/call center sales, during the past two decades. The online channel’s increasing influence on holiday shopping began in 2009, when the percentage of GAFO category sales attributable to the non-store channel began to accelerate during the holiday season relative to the rest of the year. This trend has continued unabated for the last three holiday seasons, with year-over-year sales growth in the online channel averaging 17% during the last three holiday seasons.

"The influence of the online channel has increasingly become a central component of the holiday shopping season, and our upward revisions reflect the fact that online sales in 2013 have exceeded our previous expectations," said Steve Coulombe, senior managing director in the corporate finance/restructuring segment and the firm’s retail & consumer products practice. "Tablet-enabled mobile commerce is indisputably responsible for much of this growth. The tablet has been groundbreaking for the retail industry as we know it, knocking down barriers in mobile transacting that the smartphone couldn’t."

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