A new forecast from accounting giant BDO predicts that Black Friday sales will gain 3.8%, Cyber Monday sales will increase 2.5%, and that -- surprisingly -- the humble email will become marketers' weapon of choice on the busiest shopping weekend of the year.
"We're really seeing the return of the shopper," Ted Vaughan, a partner in BDO's retail and consumer product practice, tells Marketing Daily. "Certainly, there's not going to be an immediate return to pre-recession shopping levels. But we are seeing these slight improvements year over year." Last year, CMOs in the survey forecast just 1.8% for both of these key shopping events.
Based on a survey and interviews with CMOs at the nation's 100 largest retailers, Vaughan says the results also revealed more confidence in retailers, with 64% expecting to see more discounts and promotions -- a steep decline from the 96% who made that prediction in the same survey last year. And 36% don't expect to see any uptick in those offerings.
While there's plenty of evidence that retailers are placing more emphasis on the timing of promotions, this may mean chains are turning the corner on price cuts as their only option. "Discounting will still be very important. But as consumers' shopping dollars have loosened up a little, stores are focusing more on assortments, too, to drive sales."
Part of that change, he says, is that affluent shoppers are regaining confidence. And among all consumers who have not been directly impacted by the recession, "the ones who cut back on spending because they were cautious, not because they had to -- their sense of cautiousness is wearing off."
Surprisingly, he says, 45% of the CMOs named email promotions as the marketing tactic that would yield the most sales this holiday season, followed by free shipping (22%) and search engine marketing (21%). Forget Facebook: Only 10% of CMOs expect social-media promotions to produce the most sales.
And overall, marketing executives are pushing bricks over clicks, with 59% targeting the majority of their discount and promotion offers in stores, and only 17% focusing the majority of promotions online. Some 24% are using an equal focus.