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A retailer's guide to Black Friday 2016

The biggest shopping weekend of the year has arrived. Here are the trends to watch, the Twitter accounts to follow and much more.

For most merchants, Black Friday is the most lucrative shopping day of the year — the turning point when they finally begin turning a profit, thanks to an influx of holiday shoppers in stores and online. With so much riding on the weekend ahead, Retail Dive has once again compiled a go-to guide complete with trends to watch, store opening times for the biggest players and Twitter accounts to follow as events unfold. Also be sure to check out Retail Dive's homepage and Twitter feed for the latest on Black Friday and Cyber Monday.

Three trends to watch

1. Black Friday is fading

Close to half of U.S. consumers plan to skip the seasonal retail sales blowout or its digital sibling Cyber Monday this year, according to JDA Software Group’s second annual holiday buying survey. In fact, Black Friday will no longer be the biggest retail sales and traffic day of the year, according to RetailNext: The in-store analytics firm believes it will fall behind Friday, Dec. 23, and Super Saturday, Dec. 17, this time around.  

That’s because seasonal promotions no longer culminate on Black Friday, Shelley E. Kohan, vice president of retail consulting at RetailNext, told Retail Dive. “Stores have started opening on Thanksgiving Day, which pilfers against Black Friday because people go to the stores on Thursday,” she said. 

All is not lost, however. RetailNext forecasts a 3.2% year-over-year sales spike over the November through December period, galvanized by a 14.9% annual increase in sales across digital channels.

2. Mobile shopping is exploding

For the first time ever, mobile devices will eclipse desktops in digital shopping visits this holiday season, vaulting ahead by a margin of 53% to 47%, according to Adobe’s 2016 Digital Insights Shopping Predictions report.

Retailers are responding by ramping up mobile efforts by bolstering applications with a range of new features and functions. Wal-Mart rolled out exclusive Black Friday deals, including dozens of items available solely within its mobile app, for example, while online marketplace eBay introduced #GiftGoals shopping guides, which combine social media capabilities with practical advice for interpersonal engagement to propose holiday gift ideas mapped to 12 different personality types.

Retail marketing executives are boosting their efforts as well: BDO USA’s annual Retail Compass Survey of CMOs found that 58% of chief marketing officers plan on including mobile in their holiday promotional plans and 23% have hiked their marketing and advertising budgets, with a focus on targeted ads and social media apps like Instagram and Snapchat. “The pressure is on for retailers to identify the optimal mix of promotions and pricing across channels,” Natalie Kotlyar, national leader of BDO’s Consumer Business practice, said in a statement. “It’s arguably the toughest decision retailers will make — and the most critical factor in their holiday season success.”

3. Web traffic is still growing, and store traffic is still shrinking

Retailers will experience record web traffic over the holidays, with half of U.S. consumers planning to shop online this season, according to Deloitte's 31st annual holiday survey of consumer spending intentions and trends.

Shoppers plan to buy an average of 14 gifts this year, on par with last year, and will spend an average of $426 on gifts, Deloitte found; consumers will spend almost as much online as they will in stores, researchers add. Moreover, fewer people this year plan to visit big-box retailers, dropping from 63% last year to 59% this year, and the percentage of shoppers who plan to shop at traditional malls is expected to dwindle from 53% last year to 50% this year.

“The way people shop online is having a profound impact on holiday spending this year,” Rod Sides, vice chairman, Deloitte LLP and U.S. Retail, Wholesale and Distribution practice leader, said in a statement. “Retailers must cater to that digital mindset long before someone walks into a store. If retailers treat online and in-store shopping as mutually reinforcing rather than competitive forces, they can create more opportunities across the business.”

Selected local store opening times

Wal-Mart: Stores open at 6:00 p.m. Thanksgiving; Black Friday promotions started Nov. 10 via the Walmart mobile application and will be available online at Walmart.com at 12:01 a.m. Thanksgiving

Target: Stores open at 6:00 p.m. Thanksgiving; launched 10 Days of Deals online promotion Nov. 19

Amazon: Launched 35 days of Black Friday deals Nov. 16

Macy’s: Stores open at 5:00 p.m. Thanksgiving, with Black Friday specials available all day online; launched Black Friday doorbusters preview sale Nov. 17 in stores and online

Costco: Closed Thanksgiving, doors open at 9:00 a.m. Black Friday

Best Buy: Stores open at 5:00 p.m. Thanksgiving

Office Depot: Stores closed Thanksgiving, doors open at 6:00 a.m. Black Friday; launched Black Friday and Cyber Monday promotions on its website and in stores Oct. 20

Dollar General: Stores open at 7:00 a.m. both Thanksgiving and Black Friday

Kohl’s: Stores open from 6:00 p.m. on Thanksgiving to midnight on Saturday

REI: Closed Thanksgiving and Black Friday

6 Twitter accounts to check for updates

1. Corinne Ruff, Associate editor for Retail Dive: @corinneruff

​2. Best Black Friday, website for ads, deals and news: @bestblackfri

​3. Krystina Gustafson, CNBC retail reporter: @KrystinaGustafs

4. Sarah Halzack, national retail reporter for the Washington Post: @sarahhalzack

​5. Anne D'Innocenzio, AP retail reporter: @ADInnocenzio

6. ​Phil Wahba, retail reporter at Fortune: @philwahba

Resources

As the weekend unfolds, Retail Dive will shake off our tryptophan fog to update our website and Twitter feed with early Black Friday results and insights. We’ll resume our usual publishing schedule on Monday, Nov. 28, bringing you comprehensive analysis of the holiday shopping weekend that was, in addition to delivering the latest on Cyber Monday.  

Still hungry for more? Here are just some of what we’ve published in the weeks leading up to Black Friday 2016, probing the trends, challenges and opportunities that will define this year’s retail experience:

  1. Why Black Friday is losing prominence during the 2016 holiday shopping season
  2. 5 mistakes from Black Fridays past — and how retailers can avoid them
  3. 5 fashion experts size up what's hot for the holidays
  4. Why Macy's will open its doors on Thanksgiving Day, but Mall of America won't
  5. Why retailers' cybersecurity vulnerabilities could hurt holiday sales
  6. 8 experts predict the 2016 holiday shopping season
  7. 4 product crazes that will dominate holiday shopping lists
  8. What US retailers can learn from Alibaba's record-setting Singles Day
  9. How retailers can sidestep the pitfalls of holiday season hiring
  10. How UPS stays steady in center of e-commerce shipping storm
  11. Why Best Buy is betting big on virtual reality

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Filed Under: Corporate News Holidays