More People Shopped Online Than in Stores this Black Friday

Last week’s start to the holiday shopping season marked the most social on record with 1.4 million tweets during the week leading up to Black Friday. However, sales in retail stores on Thanksgiving and Black Friday fell about $1.4 billion this year, with more consumers opting to pursue deals online. Black Friday saw a 14 percent increase in online sales over last year, for a total of $2.72 billion, while Thanksgiving online sales jumped 25 percent. Adobe estimates that shoppers spent $4.45 billion online Thursday and Friday combined.

Interestingly, shopping via mobile devices “accounted for half of traffic to online stores on both Thanksgiving and Black Friday, according to one report, and more than a third of orders,” explains Re/code. However, conversion rates remain a problem, suggesting that retailers need to work on their mobile apps.

“Five out of 100 visitors to an online store made a purchase on Thanksgiving, according to ChannelAdvisor, but just two out of 100 visitors to a mobile shopping site or app.”

mobile2According to the National Retail Federation, more consumers opted to shop online than in stores. “On Sunday, the retail federation estimated roughly 103 million people shopped online over the Thanksgiving weekend and nearly 102 million shopped in stores, based on its survey of 4,200 shoppers,” notes The Wall Street Journal.

Big chains such as Walmart and Target are attempting to adjust to the shifting habits of consumers, but WSJ notes that “despite heavy investments, online sales are still a small portion of business for retailers.”

Yet the shift continues. TIME reports: “Brick and mortar sales on Black Friday fell from $11.6 billion in 2014 to $10.4 billion in 2015, according to the retail researcher ShopperTrak. Sales on Thanksgiving fell from just over $2 billion to $1.8 billion.”

Regardless, social media is becoming an increasingly important tool. “In the seven days leading up to Black Friday this year, we saw about 1.4 million tweets talking about Black Friday,” said Chris Kerns, who leads the Analytics & Research group at Spredfast. “Last year for the same period of time, [we saw] about 1.2 million, so that gives us about a 15 percent bump, year-over-year.”

The most mentioned brands on Black Friday were Kohl’s, REI and Amazon, while the the most-used terms included #BlackFriday, #KohlsSweepstakes, #CyberMonday and #OptOutside.”

In a video interview with The Wall Street Journal, Kerns noted that REI doubled its number of tweets this year leading up to Black Friday by living up to its brand with a non-traditional “Opt Outside” campaign that involved temporarily closing its 143 stores. REI paid its 12,000 employees to take off on the busiest shopping day of the year, which prompted many of its customers to do the same and share their adventures on social media.

Companies such as Kohl’s and Victoria’s Secret scored with more traditional social campaigns. Kohl’s did well with its sweepstakes approach, explains WSJ in a related article. Those who retweeted became eligible for prizes including kitchen appliances and tickets to the upcoming “Star Wars” movie. Victoria’s Secret customers, meanwhile, could unlock special deals by retweeting.

In regards to mobile shopping, online retail analytics company Custora says that 77.6 percent of purchases originated on iOS devices, but there was a slight uptick with purchases made via Android devices (from 19.5 percent in 2014 to 22.1 percent this year).

“Online Black Friday sales revenue rose 16.1 percent from the same day last year, according to Custora. The number of orders rose 15.6 percent and the average order value grew 0.5 percent,” reports Digital Trends. “Smartphones and tablets accounted for 36.1 percent of e-commerce orders on Black Friday, up from 30.3 percent on Black Friday last year.”

Adobe notes that the top-selling electronics included Samsung 4K TVs, Apple’s iPad Air 2, Microsoft’s Xbox One, the iPad Mini and Sony’s PlayStation 4.

Verizon Commercial Suggests a Thanksgiving Without Phones, The New York Times, 11/26/15

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