Abt Electronics, the Glenview, Ill.-based retailer that touts itself as the nation’s largest single-store electronics, appliances and home goods retailer, said it had a 15% year-over-year increase in in-store sales during the period from Thanksgiving Day to Cyber Monday, growth that shattered a previous record for the long holiday weekend, according to an Abt press release emailed to Retail Dive.
The privately-owned retailer also reported a 10% year-over-year increase in foot traffic for the same period and that foot traffic on Black Friday peaked around 3 p.m. in the afternoon, unlike the experience many retailers may have had as store traffic peaked early in the morning with shoppers on the hunt for limited-time "door-buster" promotions.
Abt posted a 15% year-over-year increase in online sales between Thanksgiving Day and Cyber Monday. The retailer is predicting that sales for the entire holiday season will grow about 10% to 15% over last year.
The first thing to know about this impressive performance is that Abt was not open on Thanksgiving Day — the store was closed so employees could spend the day with their families. So Abt didn't get the head start on the big shopping weekend that some other retailers did.
That didn't seem to matter, and neither did the fact that Abt generally doesn't play the game of offering a very small amount off a specific product at a ridiculous discount in order to goose Black Friday foot traffic. That's the type of stunt that the company feels can lead to disappointment among customers, according to the Associated Press.
Focusing on customer service and the customer experience is nothing new for Abt, which has succeeded for years with the philosophy that its store should be a showroom and that lets customers feel like it's a treat to be there. The spacious family-owned store features a dramatic in-store fountain, flowers and trees under a large atrium. It often offers fresh-baked cookies and coffee to customers on the weekends, and has created special showcase areas for different kinds of products at the center of the store.
Some may think Apple invented this notion of the store as a community meeting place, but it didn't, and neither did Bonobos. Perhaps Abt didn't either, but it is making this model look effortless at a time when other retailers are struggling to grasp just how to get it right. (It's enough to make one wonder if a larger chain retailer would love to acquire Abt and try to replicate its approach, if the Abt family would sell.)
The success of this past weekend was not just about sheer growth in transactions and foot traffic. Abt also noted that consumers were spending more than expected, with an average spend per individual of $488. It may be easy to achieve that figure with big-ticket electronics items, but this number still was 14% higher than the amount predicted in a Deloitte survey outlining how much consumers were planning to spend between Thanksgiving and Cyber Monday.
About the only complaint you will ever here about Abt is that it's prices are consistently perceived as higher than places like Best Buy, although the company will price match. But, that doesn't seem to scare away much business, and it certainly didn't this past weekend.