Hopefully there were some “takeaways” at your Thanksgiving — along the lines of turkey, pie, stuffing, and more, making for some nice leftovers for the long holiday weekend. But if those “takeaways” have been eaten up, we have a few more now that some of the returns are in on shopping and consumer trends with this season’s official Black Friday/Cyber Monday kickoff:
*Black Friday loses its grip: In fact, “Black Friday,” as such, is no longer the sure-bet indicator of how holiday sales will shape up, or what kind of spending mood consumers are actually in. This is because of the increasing trend of having sales earlier, including on Thanksgiving itself, for retailers that were open that day, and stretching them out through Cyber Monday.
*Cyber Monday set a record: Cyber Monday sales set a record this year. “Online sales Monday jumped 17 percent from last year, totaling nearly $2.04 billion, research firm comScore Inc. said Tuesday. That represents the heaviest online spending day in history and the first to surpass $2 billion in sales,” according to an article from the AP.
*And Cyber Monday isn’t even the last “big shopping day” of the year: As the same AP article notes, “Retailers from Target to Amazon have been offering online deals since the beginning of November, and are promising ‘cyber deals all week.” In fact, those will continue through the month. As a Bloomberg article on the dip in brick-and-mortar store sales on Black Friday also states, ““Historically, we know a larger percentage of the revenue for the holiday season falls into December. There are seven of the 10 largest shopping days left to go.” Among those are the final Saturday and Sunday before Christmas.
*Consumer Habits, like technology and the weather, continue to change: “Brick- and-mortar locations and store hours are increasingly beside-the-point,” says the Greensheet, a payments industry trade sheet. “Consumers are frequenting retailers that pop-up’ in heavily trafficked areas, selling their wares in temporary buildings for days and weeks and then disappearing just as suddenly.” These kinds of sales were pioneered by the “Halloween stores” that reside in otherwise empty storefronts from late summer through November 1st. Increasingly, these lower-overhead marketing motifs are being used for other merchandise, and other holidays.
*And yet, some consumer habits do not: A Pymnts.com Black Friday wrap-up mentioned how few sales were made with “virtual wallets,” specifically the “Apple Pay” app on the new iPhones. “More surprising is that five weeks after the launch of Apple’s revolutionary payment method, more than 90 percent of those who could have used Apple Pay, because it was sitting there right on their phones, hadn’t even given it a try.” Until a big enough base of consumers gets used to paying with their phones, and realizing it’s an option “in enough of the stores that matter to them, ignition could be slow,” the article concludes. Meaning traditional forms of payment are likely to be with us for many Black Fridays and Cyber Mondays to come.
*Small Businesses Remain Hopeful: Some regional businesses were happy “seeing sales swell during Small Business Saturday,” according to one article. One merchant “wore a ‘Shop Small’ button on her apron, a symbol of the national campaign of Small Business Saturday. ‘It was a little better than last year,’ she said, about the overall atmosphere of Small Business Saturday. ‘It pretty much kept us busy all weekend.'”
And here’s to your customers keeping your business — large or small — busy for all the remaining weekends (and weekdays!) of this holiday season. And as they continue to buy, shop, experiment with payment platforms, and worry about their online security, be sure to contact your AVPS rep for any help, hardware or software updates, or anything else you might need to be ready not only for the days ahead, but the new year which will be here before you can even say “plum pudding!”