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Black Friday 2019 expected to lose punch in extended holiday shopping period

Published
Nov 27, 2019
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With over half of holiday shoppers already making purchases and an increasing number of consumers expected to shop on Thanksgiving Day, analysts are predicting that this year’s Black Friday won’t have quite the same clout as in previous years – worrying news for retailers who rely on the event to boost revenues.


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According to a survey carried out by the National Retail Federation (NRF) and Prosper Insights & Analytics, 56% of U.S. consumers had already begun their holiday shopping in the first week of November, up from 48% at the same time in the previous year.
 
The figure is also higher than the 39% of respondents to an earlier NRF survey who said they planned to begin holiday shopping before November, citing a desire to avoid last-minute stress and crowds, as well as to spread out their budget more evenly.

“Consumers don’t wait for Thanksgiving or Black Friday anymore and neither do retailers,” explained Prosper VP of strategy, Phil List. “Retailers responded this year by offering promotions earlier than ever, with some rolling out holiday deals even before Halloween.”
 
According to CNBC, some industry analysts even claim that holiday shopping started in July this year, due to the timing of Amazon’s Prime Day event.
 
“Black Friday no longer represents a narrow window of opportunity in which shoppers have to wait in the cold and sprint into stores to get unmissable deals,” said Coresight Research founder and CEO Deborah Weinswig, as cited by CNBC. “Holiday shopping now occupies much of November and has warmups much earlier in the year, as holiday shopping increasingly becomes a year-round activity.”
 
The upcoming Thanksgiving weekend will nonetheless continue to be one of the busiest shopping periods of the year, with NRF expecting some 165.3 million U.S. consumers to make purchases between Thanksgiving Day itself and Cyber Monday.
 
However, Black Friday’s significance in the five-day shopping holiday does look to be on the wane. 114.6 million people are expected to shop on the day this year, down from 116.4 million last year and 115.7 million in 2017.
 
Thanksgiving Day, on the other hand, looks to be becoming an increasingly popular shopping day, with 39.6 million potential shoppers predicted for this year, up from 35.0 million and 32.0 million in 2018 and 2017, respectively.
 
“We expect the biggest increase in potential shoppers for Thanksgiving Day this year,” commented Rist. “We anticipate that people may head to stores if they are open or shop from their phones while watching football.”
 
Other analysts have cited Black Friday fatigue as a factor contributing to the slowdown in Black Friday traffic, as well as the fact that online shopping has made it much easier to compare prices, making doorbuster deals less attractive to consumers.
 
In any case, a deceleration in Black Friday sales could be particularly bad news for America’s department stores, many of whom, including Macy’s, J.C. Penney and Kohl’s, have come to rely on the event to nudge them back into the black.
 
Of the consumers who told NRF that they are planning to do their holiday shopping over Thanksgiving weekend, 65% cited deals as the reason for their choice, while 28% claimed the activity was a tradition and 17% said that they enjoyed shopping as part of a group on these days, with family or friends.
 
Overall, NRF expects holiday retail sales in November and December to increase between 3.8% and 4.2% compared to the same period in the previous year, totaling between $727.9 billion and $730.7 billion.

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