How Technology has Disrupted the Age-Old Tradition of Black Friday Shopping

When it comes to making purchases, we know one true and constant fact: consumers love a good deal. Every year, thousands of holiday shoppers stand in line for hours to be among the first to rush through the doors of the nation’s largest department and big box stores and get the best bargains. And since the 1960s, it’s been well known those deals come on Black Friday.

Or do they? According to WSU Carson College of Business’ second annual holiday retail survey, consumer preference for Black Friday has shifted to an even more convenient alternative – Cyber Monday.

This year, the report showed shoppers opted to spend time with family on Black Friday and shop online for Cyber Monday deals instead. Seventy-two percent of consumers in the Pacific Northwest were likely to shop on Cyber Monday, while only 55 percent wanted to shop on Black Friday. In fact, two-thirds of shoppers actually prefer to skip Black Friday altogether and shop on Cyber Monday instead.

So how can retailers keep shoppers’ loyalty come next year? Here are a few insights that retailers might find interesting from this year’s survey:

1. Create an experience for the whole family

Cyber Monday is edging out Black Friday and Thanksgiving sales because Black Friday’s deals no longer have as much allure – 84 percent of people feel Black Friday used to be an event; now it’s an entire week. Many shoppers (58 percent) say they are over Black Friday, as they can get those deals anywhere, any time. In fact, 7 in 10 consumers reported they would much rather do something other than shop on Black Friday, shifting focus on Thanksgiving back toward family. Shoppers want others to enjoy their Thanksgiving too, as 78 percent appreciate stores that stay closed on Thanksgiving. And 87 percent agree Thanksgiving is about spending time with family, not shopping.

The solution:
To stay ahead of the competition next year, retailers can continue to offer online sales but create incentives to come in-store for even better savings. By creating a fun and engaging atmosphere, as well as targeting more than one generation in marketing for Black Friday, retailers can create an experience for the whole family to enjoy.

2. Reward loyal shoppers that still love Black Friday

While the findings may reveal a bleak picture for in-store sales on Black Friday, Gen Z provides a ray of hope. The survey found 67 percent of Gen Z consumers planned to shop on Black Friday this year. Eighty-one percent like shopping in-store rather than online because they like trying items on, and 68 percent say shopping in-store is fun.

The solution: Retailers can market directly toward Gen Z consumers by creating a youthful atmosphere and offering high schoolers or college students a special in-store discount with their student ID. By taking advantage of a market that’s still loyal, retailers have an opportunity to expand their reach once again.

3. Highlight great deals and local ties in-store and online

Whether online or in-store, holiday shopping is still believed to be cost-effective and locally focused. Eighty-nine percent of people think there is no need to spend a fortune on holiday gifts, and 64 percent appreciate the ability to compare prices online. In fact, 61 percent of shoppers believe deals are the best during Cyber Monday, and 50 percent of Cyber Monday shoppers planned to shop during work hours – talk about convenient savings! Of those that planned to shop in-store, 73 percent would not travel more than an hour to shop – highlighting one of the many benefits of shopping locally.

The solution: Highlight sales on locally made products in-store and online to show a commitment to saving money and supporting local businesses. Retailers can also highlight how they are giving back to the community, as 80 percent of shoppers say that a positive impact on the community weighs in on their purchase decision. Through marketing in-store and on social media, retailers can reach shoppers on a more personal level.

Armed with these new consumer insights detailed in the report, retailers can stay ahead of the curve by following and adjusting to new trends that will keep them competitive in the market this holiday season – and for many more to come.

Dr. Joan Giese is a clinical associate professor in the Department of Marketing and International Business. She is returning to WSU after having spent several years on the marketing faculty earlier in her career. She has also been on the marketing faculties at the University of Oregon, Kansas State University, and the University of Montana. Giese received her Ph.D. in marketing at Washington State University. Her research interests in marketing are related to the influences of feelings and design on customer decision making. She is published in several academic journals, including the Journal of Marketing, Journal of Retailing, Psychology & Marketing, Journal of Business Research, Marketing Letters and others. Giese has also served as a marketing consultant to several businesses, agencies, and government organizations.

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