Black Friday Still Remains a Popular Tradition

Black Friday week is here and shoppers are preparing their game plan to hit up stores with the hottest products at door-busting prices. Meanwhile, other shoppers are turning to their mobile devices to access early promotions with a single touch of a button.

In a previous blog, we took a closer look at what shoppers expect during Black Friday season and explored some effective ways to keep mobile shoppers engaged. While retailers are adding their last minute touches to their Black Friday strategy, the argument still remains:

Is Black Friday still important and relevant to shoppers today? Will more customers shop and buy more on either Thanksgiving or Black Friday or completely avoid the entire American tradition?

“Black Friday is not just about deals. It’s about family and the experience of shopping with your family and for your family. I believe while there is  Thanksgiving there will be a Black Friday” said Sudha Vadarajan, CTO and co-founder of Skava.

Skava’s VP of Technology, Khurram Khan also added that Black Friday is still an American tradition that will continue to be one that many customers embrace.

“Black Friday is now part of our culture just as much as Thanksgiving is part of our American culture. Black Friday is something unique to America and that we’re now spreading to the world.”

While Black Friday is a treasured tradition for most shoppers and their friends and family, we’ve seen some numbers decline in the past two years.

“The acceleration and ubiquity of online shopping have almost completely blurred the lines between Black Friday, Cyber Monday and shopping on Thanksgiving day,” said Skava’s VP of Marketing, Yuval Yatskan. “Still, I think that shoppers expect some separation between those days with Black Friday being the apex.”    

It’s interesting to note that Black Friday store traffic is heaviest during the day (between 2 p.m. and 4 p.m.), but is still insignificant compared to online traffic. Last year, of the 151 million people who shopped during Black Friday weekend, more than 103 million people opted to skip the crowds and shopped online.


ThinkWithGoogle: What Store Traffic Data Reveals About Black Friday Shopping

With technology making extreme waves during the holiday shopping season, we are seeing more consumer confidence online in recent years and consumers are spending more money this season.

Despite the decline in total Black Friday sales – $14 billion in 2014 and $13.1 billion in 2015 – the National Retail Federation predicts that “holiday sales in 2015 increased 3.2 percent over the previous year.” Shoppers are becoming savvier. Customers are shopping for better deals before Thanksgiving week in November and after Christmas in late December. They are discovering that some Black Friday deals are not as attractive and find the same promotions going on from the beginning of November to Black Friday weekend.

NRF predicted that November and December sales will grow exponentially at 3.6% to $655.8 billion compared to last year during the same time frame.

We expect mobile to continue to surpass desktop this year. Since Black Friday is no longer a single day event – and is considered a week long sales event – customers have more time to shop and browse at multiple stores. Therefore, we expect in-store traffic to soar during Thanksgiving week.

Over the last three years, we’ve seen Black Friday move earlier from Friday to Thursday to Wednesday. However, peak traffic time – the night of Thanksgiving dinner, prior to hitting the retail stores on Friday – has not changed.

Let’s take a look at peak times during Thanksgiving and Black Friday in the last two years.

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Skava Black Friday 2015 data

In 2014, people continued to browse and shop during dinner time (7 p.m.) on Thanksgiving day, and roughly around the same time (6 p.m.) last year using their mobile device, according to our data. Meanwhile, most page views on mobile websites during Black Friday were between the times of 8 a.m. – 9 a.m.

We predict shoppers will continue to browse and shop roughly around the same time, maybe even earlier.

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Skava Black Friday 2015 data

Given that some brick and mortars are closed on Thanksgiving Day, retailers who started their online deals Thanksgiving night saw an increase in online purchases.

Customers spent more on Black Friday compared to Thanksgiving Day. Online shoppers spent $1.73 billion during Thanksgiving Day while $2.74 billion was spent on Black Friday, according to Adobe.

“Retailers may try and alter Black Friday times, but customer behavior has not changed with these alterations,” Sudha added. “Everyone gets in on Thursday, have their dinner, shop online and hit the stores on Friday. It is a phenomenon that appears to go hand-in-hand with Thanksgiving traditions.”

Regardless of the stats and surveys, Black Friday still remains a tradition that won’t go away. Customers will shop primarily online and we expect more traffic coming from mobile devices than desktop. The trends we’ve seen in the last two years have shown that more and more people are buying online during Thanksgiving night. Since deals have started earlier, we would not be surprised to see more people buying as early as the beginning of Thanksgiving week.