More holiday shoppers will likely be avoiding physical stores this Black Friday weekend, and more will be shopping online that weekend, according to various research.
Just 40% of shoppers plan to hit stores on the famous red letter shopping day, according to a nationwide survey of U.S. shoppers from marketing solutions firm Market Track, emailed to Retail Dive. A separate study by PwC found the number of shoppers planning to go to physical stores on Black Friday to be a full 9% higher, with 30% combining online and in-store shopping, and 19% shopping only in store. Nearly a third (30%) of consumers planned to do the majority of their Black Friday shopping only online, PwC found.
Thanksgiving Day will be more quiet this year, according to the Market Track study. Less than a third (30%) of respondents said they would shop in-store this Thanksgiving, compared to half last year, Market Track said. PwC found that 28% will do most of their shopping only online on Thanksgiving — up 10% from last year — while 17% will shop both online and in stores, and 13% will shop only in stores.
Black Friday weekend for years has been a notorious day of frenzy and even hysteria for shoppers intent on scoring fleeting blockbuster deals on big-ticket items like televisions. That frenzy has ebbed, thanks to handy, round-the-clock internet shopping available. (Still, Walmart, which has been the scene of some of the worst Black Friday melees over the years, remains the top destination for in-store shopping this holiday season, Market Track found.)
As people become less inclined to leave their warm Thanksgiving celebrations to hit stores, more retailers are abandoning the previous trend of opening that day. More than 55 retailers will keep stores closed on Thanksgiving Day this year, according to holiday deals site BestBlackFriday.com. Co-owner Phillip Dengler told Retail Dive in an email earlier this month that he expects the list to grow to more than 75. Since that report, Staples and PGA Tour Superstores have announced they too will shutter on the holiday.
While the extra hours have been a boon to mass merchants like Walmart and Target, for many retailers the costs of opening on Thanksgiving may not be worth it. Data from the NPD Group's Checkout Tracking Total Channel show that fewer shoppers are turning out to shop on both days — and they are increasingly choosing to go out only on Black Friday, if they go out at all. Some 16% of Americans favor Thanksgiving openings while 58% dislike it and 26% are indifferent, according to Best Black Friday's research this year. In some states, retailers have little choice but to close on that day. Blue laws in Massachusetts, Rhode Island and Maine prohibit stores from opening on Thanksgiving itself.
Market Track also notes that Amazon will be a major beneficiary of these trends — more than 80% of shoppers plan to shop at the retail e-commerce giant this year compared to 74% that planned to last year. It could also be a boon for all retailers closing on Thanksgiving Day, who are likely to see online traffic from customers shopping between dinner and the football game.
When it comes to physical stores, the atmosphere is all-important "to deliver an experience to shoppers this holiday season to ensure their traffic numbers keep pace," Market Track said. "And we're not talking sitting on Santa's lap. Look for demos of the latest VR technology, taking drones for a test drive, tasting coffee from the latest countertop barista, and much, much more."