#TBT Black Friday!

We’ve all come to expect it. The “Black Friday Buzz” that begins about a month before Thanksgiving. Tons of TV commercials, HUGE amounts of flyers, earth shattering deals…This day, of any day during the holiday shopping season, is your best chance to get the most bang for your buck.  While this shopping phenomenon has certainly gained steam in the last decade, it’s actually quite an old tradition. The day after Thanksgiving has long been considered the official start of the holiday shopping season. Since 1924, Santa Claus has been part of the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade. While hardly subtle, “nothing can nudgingly remind you about all the presents left to buy for Christmas like Santa and the Macy’s logo all over your television!” By the 50’s, factory owners started referring to the day after Thanksgiving as “Black Friday” due to the enormous amount of employees that wouldn’t show up for work (were they sick or simply over-indulged?).  However, by the time the 80’s rolled around, Black Friday began to be viewed in a more positive light once “some shop owners pointed out that the profitable post-Thanksgiving rush put ‘black ink’ on their balance sheets for the first time all year.”

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Flash forward to 2013 and we have over 90 million people partaking in this 1-day shopping extravaganza. 90 million shoppers means mega bucks for the retail industry. Just how many bucks you ask? This is when things get really crazy. 2013 Black Friday reported sales totaled a whopping $12.3 billion in brick & mortar sales alone. Add in another $1.97 billion for online and mobile sales and that brings us to almost $15 BILLION in sales in just one day! The numbers really get interesting though when you break them down year-over-year. While brick and mortar sales saw an increase of 2.2%, online and mobile sales increased an impressive 18.5% since 2012. However, it’s when we breakdown those mobile and online sales figures, we truly see an impressive new trend. Of the $1.97 billion in online and mobile sales, mobile traffic represented 39.7%, and an amazing increase of 34% over Black Friday sales in 2012.  As someone who works for a company that’s ultimate goal is to bridge online and offline in the retail space, I can’t help but wonder how many of those mobile sales were made by people who were actually standing in the physical store, but choose to just hop on their smartphone and buy their gifts online after first seeing them in person.  This being said, online and mobile sales are on a steep upward trend year-over-year.

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If I were forced to pick between getting the same great deals from the comfort of my own home, instead of battling a massive, stampeding hoard of crazed shoppers, the decision would be quite easy. The data is showing us more and more people are starting to come to this realization. Assuming Black Friday is only going to gain popularity in coming years, it will be interesting to see if the shopping trends continue to shift to mobile and online.