Report: Black Friday-Cyber Monday discounts were few and fleeting

Dive Brief:

  • Despite Black Friday marketing that many retailers started just after Halloween, shoppers weren’t much impressed with discounts, according to research from Boomerang Commerce.

  • Retailers, including Amazon, Wal-Mart Stores, Target, and Jet, all failed to significantly discount the great majority of popular products. While Amazon’s prices dropped on Thanksgiving, they increased through Black Friday and Cyber Monday. Similarly, prices at Wal-Mart and Target fell before Thanksgiving, remained low during early Black Friday, but increased later that day, going even higher than before Black Friday.

  • Target competed most closely with Amazon on toy prices, especially after Black Friday, when it undercut Amazon throughout Cyber Monday. Wal-Mart’s toy prices, by contrast, were the highest, an average 12% higher than Amazon throughout the whole weekend. Wal-Mart’s toy prices, in fact, never matched Amazon’s aggressive prices. Target’s housewares prices were within 5% of Amazon’s and even below Amazon’s before Cyber Monday. Meanwhile Wal-Mart’s housewares prices never closed the PPI gap with Amazon and increased to 16% over Amazon by the end of Cyber Monday.

Dive Insight:

Despite reports of an inventory glut and aggressive marketing just after Halloween, retailers didn’t budge much on prices over the Thanksgiving-Black Friday-Cyber Monday shopping weekend, this research shows.

That may account, at least in part, for the fairly muted traffic to stores, which was comparatively light this year. Although much of that was attributed to increased mobile and web traffic, the lack of discounts to be found over the weekend could also have contributed to flatter sales, according to Boomerang.

“Shoppers are no longer seeing the same depth and variety of discounts,” Boomerang founder-CEO Guru Hariharan said in a statement. “Our data proves this is actually the case – Black Friday and Cyber Monday no longer offer blockbuster discounts to consumers.”

That might put even greater price pressure on retailers as December marches on, a phenomenon already anticipated by Macy’s CEO Terry Lundgren. 

"Eventually you run out of days to sell through the inventory, because December 27th comes and volume just drops off precipitously," Lundgren said earlier this month. "We're going to take markdowns. Consumers are going to have a field day, because we're going to have lots of values out there. But we're going to get rid of the inventory; have to do that before Christmas.”

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Filed Under: Corporate News