December 1, 2023 - Black Friday, once a day of crowd-filled, in-person mayhem, is now a much more subdued affair. This shift is thanks in large part to the rising dependence on online shopping accelerated by the pandemic. Shoppers can now take advantage of Black Friday bargains from the comfort of home and the holiday sales event still manages to attract millions of consumers.
Ahead of this year’s event, the National Retail Federation projected that an estimated 182 million US consumers were planning to shop in-store and online through the five-day Thanksgiving weekend, with Black Friday leading the charge, making up 130.7 million of the potential shoppers. At the same time, economists had noted that fear of inflation, while not as acute as a year ago, is still a concern looming large in consumers’ minds, potentially leading to more modest spending. Amongst these conflicting predictions, retailers across the world had their fingers crossed for a record-shattering spending spree on Black Friday 2023. So, now the day has come and gone, did they get the early Christmas present they were hoping for?
According to the NRF, a record 200.4 million US consumers shopped over the five-day holiday weekend from Thanksgiving Day through Cyber Monday, surpassing last year’s record of 196.7 million, and its own expectations for 2023. This would indicate that Black Friday is as important as ever for merchants. However, we got a mixed response when we asked our LinkedIn network if Black Friday is still critical for driving sales and revenue.
Half of the respondents we asked viewed Black Friday as somewhat declining in importance. This sentiment is mirrored in PwC’s holiday survey, which found that just 19% of shoppers were planning to shop on Black Friday, with 27% planning to shop in early November and 16% planning to shop between Cyber Monday and Christmas in anticipation of last-minute deals. The NRF also noted that consumers are increasingly preferring to spread their holiday shopping over the entire season. So, with online shopping and earlier sales, does Black Friday still hold the same power over holiday shopping as it has in the past? Well, the remaining 25% of those we spoke to argued that the day remains critical. This spread in opinions points to the evolving nature of Black Friday in retail; the actual day may be slowly reducing in criticality for sales, but retailers are strategically shifting towards an extended Black Friday sales period.
It’s no secret that Black Friday sales don’t last 24 hours anymore. Today, Black Friday adjacent sales messaging hits inboxes even earlier than Halloween. It’s been a slow but steady shift, with retailers moving their holiday deals earlier and earlier over the course of around a decade. Today, many merchants run Black Friday deals throughout November and into December. This has the benefit of causing less pressure on retailer infrastructure on key dates, while still meeting customer demand for savings. It could also mean reaching a different demographic of Black Friday shoppers, who have been less engaged in the ‘big day’ and less likely to plan around it.
The key takeaway? Black Friday lives on and will always be an important period in the retail calendar, although the specific date appears to be getting diluted as retailers expand the Black Friday period. This evolution of Black Friday applies to both online and in-store because, while it may not look the same as it did decades ago, in-person Black Friday shopping will not vanish entirely. Shopping in-store has a lot of appeal for many consumers and can be a social pastime, especially in the run-up to Christmas. People are more likely to do their retail shopping on a Friday than other weekdays, suggesting an end-of-the-week buzz or treat is an important part of the week. In-store payment methods are enhancing the experience, ensuring loyal in-store shoppers benefit from the same efficiency as those who shop online.
For retailers, this means ensuring they are able to accept a range of payment methods both on and offline. It also means harnessing payment data year-round so personalised offers can be made during the Black Friday sales period. In an e-commerce landscape where 70% of consumers abandon their carts at the last minute, making smart use of data will set retailers apart in 2024 in as a wave of innovation continues to sweep the retail technology playing field.
To find out how PXP can help you prepare for peak sales periods to attract consumers and maximise revenue, get in touch with our team of payments experts today.
About PXP Financial
The end-to-end payment platform: PXP Financial provides a single unified payments platform to accept payments online, on mobile and at the point of sale. Powered by in-house acquiring, a variety of payment methods & financial services, PXP processes over EUR 22.7 billion annually through our unified gateway. Whatever your business needs today or tomorrow, PXP Financial’s innovative payment platform will support your business growth with all the payment services you will ever need from one source, wherever your business takes you. To find out more about PXP Financial family of companies, visit: www.pxpfinancial.com.