Although Black Friday is the official kickoff of the holiday shopping period, consumers have plenty of good reasons to stay home and eat leftovers instead of heading to the mall. Gas is expensive, their homes aren't worth as much, and credit is tight. Still, a new poll from Maritz finds that 37% of shoppers are at least saying they'll venture out with the shopping throngs--up from 3.4% in its survey last year.
And the more affluent the shopper, the more likely that is to be true, with 45% of those earning more than $100,000 planning to brave Black Friday, compared with just 30% of those earning less than $25,000. The Friday diehards also say they plan to spend a bit more than other people, estimating that their total holiday spending will be $790. That compares with $637 for Black Friday avoiders--a decline of 10% from last year's survey.
Black Friday-ing has also increasingly become a sport for the young: "The majority of Gen Y respondents (59%), as well as a significant portion of Gen X (46%), are planning to shop," the survey finds. "Only a small percentage of Boomers (23%) and the Silent Generation (21%) will venture out on Black Friday."
And BDO Seidman's recent Retail Compass Survey of CMOs finds that chief marketing officers at the largest retailers expect Black Friday sales will account for 15.1% of total holiday revenue in 2007. The CMOs in that survey also predict that more than one fifth (21.3%) of holiday sales will take place in the final week before Christmas.
But Cyber Monday, the first Monday after Thanksgiving--regarded as the kickoff of the e-commerce shopping season--continues to gain in importance, and is expected to account for 12.3% of Internet sales this holiday season. (Separately, eMarketer is now predicting that the U.S. retail e-commerce holiday season will come in with sales of $31 billion, an 18.5% increase from 2006.)
"This year's holiday survey of CMOs indicates that while retailers are dedicating a measurable proportion (14.8%) of their total marketing budget to driving Internet sales this holiday season," says the BDO Seidman report, "a majority of the retailers are not conducting any special promotions. They see the convenience of online buying as a sufficient incentive."
In addition to online purchases, the Internet has also emerged as a key weapon for savvy bargain-hunters. Shopping-oriented Web sites, such as gottadeal.com and dealtaker.com, provide a place for rabid shoppers to swap strategies and bargain information "leaked" before the circulars are mailed. Last year, Wal-Mart even threatened legal action if shopper sites continue to post sales prices weeks before the actual sales.
For the most part, retailers aren't venturing into that consumer-driven chaos: Despite the hype about bargain-hunting via MySpace and Facebook, "only 4% of CMOs report using social networking sites to market products to consumers," BDO Seidman reports.
But there's no denying that for some consumers, it's a day that requires more planning, scheming and strategizing than April 15. A site called bfgear.com, which says it already has leaked circulars from Macy's, Ace Hardware and Sears, even sells clothing to inspire the frenzy. Hint: If you see someone coming at you wearing a "Full contact shopping" beanie or a "Hold on to what you can!" T-shirt, back away from the flat-screen TVs.