Commentary

How Black Friday Merges Into Cyber Monday

holidaygiftstonsBlack Friday shopping will merge more with Cyber Monday this year, according to research released Monday. Some 51% of consumers participating in a Nielsen survey said they plan to do Black Friday shopping online. Only 13% will shop in the physical stores on the day after Thanksgiving, down from 17% in 2012. It's another opportunity for search engine marketers to attract consumers online.

Typically, stores are packed on the Friday following Thanksgiving Day, but Nielsen points to a downward trend in the amount of consumers shopping on that day. Some 85% of consumers do not plan to shop on the day after Thanksgiving, up from 80% in 2010.  

Shopping online in many cases results in a much better experience for consumers. I love the products at William-Sonoma, but I can only describe my experience last weekend in a southern California store as chaotic, because of the manager's attempt to accomplish three tasks at once and answer twice as many questions from other employees while completing a transaction for me. And we've only barely entered the holiday shopping season.

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For me, it's much easier to go online, search for what I need, and make the purchase. I can read recommendations and assess the purchase decision. I'm not saying consumers won't hit the brick-and-mortar stores Friday. Nielsen's Holiday Spending Forecast study provides a list of consumer preferences of where they will shop on Black Friday: department stores, 71%; electronic stores, 58%; online, 51%; and supercenters, 48%.

Consumers' waning interest last year didn’t stop advertisers from promoting their products. Spending on Black Friday 2012 themed television advertising topped $11 million -- five times the $2.4 million spent in 2011. In fact, Black Friday-specific ads accounted for more than 5% of all national TV ads shown on Black Friday in 2012 -- up from 2% in 2011 and less than 1% in 2008.

Findings from Nielsen's study also suggest that 85% of consumers plan to skip the stores on Black Friday this year. Instead, 46% said they will shop online this Cyber Monday, compared with 30% in 2012 -- up 16 points.

More consumers will also shop via mobile devices. Some 37% of consumers plan to use tablets and 27% will use their mobile phones to shop on Cyber Monday. Once online, three-fourths of consumers will rely on store Web sites and word of mouth to get information on Cyber Monday deals, while 51% will turn to Cyber Monday deal sites.

Holiday Gifts photo from Shutterstock

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