More pie, more metrics, a little EMV, and other tasty holiday insights

holiday shopping trends

More pie, More Metrics, a Little EMV, and Other Tasty Holiday Insights

Thanksgiving, Black Friday, and Cyber Monday: Changing Traditions

It’s not just “Thanksgiving” that comes at the end of November for most Americans now, but also “Black Friday.” The latter is almost as much an alternate organizing metaphor for the long weekend’s meaning as the original day of breaking bread, pie slices, and wishbones together in holiday shopping trends.

The Christian Science Monitor even says, in talking about the whole five-day sequence, people “frequently refer to the ‘Black Friday’ season.”

The Evolution of Black Friday and Cyber Monday

Wait — five days? Well, yes, for now, the just-concluded “Cyber Monday” is as much a part of the shopping/holiday weekend as the days that come before it.

“Black Friday” evidently had its origins as a term in 50’s-era Philadelphia, where cops noted the extra shifts of duty to watch over crowds coming into town for the weekend’s Army/Navy football games. The City’s merchants also took notice and continued to offer specials, marking the start of the weekend’s shopping frenzy. However, Thanksgiving weekend, traditionally marked by the Macy’s Parade since the 1920s, has always been considered the official kickoff for seasonal shopping.

Then, in 2005, the National Retail Federation coined the term “Cyber Monday” for the e-commerce shopping day that followed the weekend. Initially, it referred to browsing websites on desktop PCs, often during work hours when consumers had faster and more secure internet connections.

The Changing Landscape of Holiday Shopping

But now, while Thanksgiving weekend may still present challenges for police departments near and far, a lot has changed about how “Black Friday” and Cyber Monday” both work. Indeed, the “Cyber” end of the shopping week may now be the tail wagging the rest of the seasonal dogs.

As The Street further notes, “with the ability to shop on a phone, tablet or desktop at any point in time, online shopping is no longer a one-day event. Amazon has clearly picked up on this trend with its eight days of Black Friday deals and eight days of Cyber Week deals.”

Though the Monitor also observes this reconceptualization now extends past not only eight days, and a potential 12 days of Christmas, but even beyond the 24 days of Advent: “This is because retailers (and intrepid deal sites) have been posting Black Friday ads far in advance, sometimes as early as the beginning of October.”

The Impact of Payment Technologies

And of course, the idea of how customers pay — it’s not just wallets anymore — is changing too. In looking at the expanding role of smartphones in this year’s holiday shopping, the Associated Press says “mobile traffic during the five-day start to what is typically the busiest shopping period of the year was expected to reach 56.9 percent of total traffic, up from 48.5 percent last year, according to IBM Watson.”

According to the article, one potential shopper highlighted the convenience of mobile shopping, stating that it allows them to stay updated on time-sensitive sales without being bound to a computer or having to leave holiday gatherings.

Another payment-related concern during Black Friday was how the introduction of EMV technology would affect the already-long store lines. Both customers and retailers were still adjusting to the new Point of Sale devices and learning the proper way to insert the chip-enabled cards.

According to PaymentSource, “the introduction of EMV cards didn’t significantly slow transaction times at U.S. retailers during the Black Friday shopping event.”

But still, “consumers and merchants are both learning that timing – when to dip and when to remove an EMV card from a reader – is everything. Sometimes the terminal will time out if the cardholder inserts the chip card too soon.

That didn’t seem to be a huge issue this past Black Friday. Previously, “Visa merchants reported a 42% increase in chip-on-chip transactions from September to October, jumping to $8.9 billion from $4.8 billion.” The specific numbers for chip transactions from the long holiday weekend aren’t yet available, but “Visa noted that cardholders spent $1.5 billion overall on Thanksgiving, a 22% increase over last year’s $1.2 billion.”

Upgrade Your Business for the Holiday Season

So customers, so far, aren’t fazed by rapidly changing payment technologies, and at the moment,  have been willing to spend, both online and off, whether with the plastic or the phone app, in their pockets.

And online!

So now that the rest of the holiday shopping season is here, be sure you’re as upgraded as your customers. Contact your AVPS rep to see what upgrades are in our holiday stockings, from mobile processing to easy checkout solutions.

More “upgrades and insights” in a week!

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