Black Friday and Cyber Week are going to be bigger than ever, with holiday shoppers each planning to spend an average of $743 during the week — a 47% increase from last year, according to new survey data from RetailMeNot.
The study also found that the holiday shopping period is beginning earlier for both those buying and selling, with 45% of shoppers in the U.S. planning to start checking off their lists by Nov. 1 and 80% of retailers starting their marketing efforts earlier. That’s not to mention that 85% of retailers are also planning on spending more for that marketing.
Cyber Monday is expected to be a particularly large growth spot for the holiday season, with 56% of holiday shoppers saying they plan to make a purchase on the holiday, compared to 39% a year ago, the study found.
Holiday shoppers appear to be starting earlier and paying more at large shopping events, which means that there are also more opportunities for retailers to reach out to consumers.
According to RetailMeNot, 81% of holiday shoppers use up to six different channels to find the best holiday deals, giving retailers several entry points through which to market. Among those channels are email, search engines, savings apps, mobile searches, newspapers and word-of-mouth recommendations from friends and family.
"For retailers, an earlier start to the shopping season means a greater opportunity to land in consumers' consideration set ahead of the competition," Marissa Tarleton, CMO of RetailMeNot, said in a press release emailed to Retail Dive. "As consumers approach shopping through many channels, retailers should match their journey with nimble content and smooth experiences."
That might mean making sure that the experience across mobile, online and in-store is fluid and easy to understand. This holds especially true for the online and mobile experiences, as shoppers are likely to leave a website or app that is underperforming. In fact, 68% of consumers said that encountering basic functionality issues, like a poorly designed menu, would cause them to look elsewhere.
Similarly, 60% of Gen Z — the generation that is principally targeted by mobile — will leave a website or app that is too slow to load, and 62% won’t use an app that’s hard to navigate. As a result, retailers who spend time making their channels user friendly and intuitive will likely have the best chance of winning over these mobile-savvy customers.
Studies have also shown that having the right keywords is crucial to the holiday period, as shoppers often make searches that they don’t during the rest of the year, like "great stocking stuffers." It could also behoove retailers to send out their own list of stocking stuffer ideas to customers — 88% of holiday shoppers actually want ads, as long as they come from brands they care about.
RetailMeNot also expects that deals and savings periods will be longer than last year, with 70% of customers saying they’re planning to shop during the Black Friday to Cyber Monday week and nearly half saying that they would get up early for a good deal. The digital savings company recommends that retailers send out "pulses" of savings, as the ideal promotional length is only about three days.
"With the expanded shopping season this year, Black Friday and Cyber Monday are no longer single-focus days. It’s now a two-week-long promotional opportunity," Tarleton said. "Not only are these two days as important as ever, retailers must consider how to win the two-week period."
This story is part of our ongoing coverage of the 2017 holiday shopping season. You can browse our holiday page and sign up for our holiday newsletter for more stories.