Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Holiday Season Kicks Off With Record Breaking Sales

Fighting the tryptophan from Thanksgiving turkey, an estimated 226 million Americans headed out to line sidewalks, parking lots, and stores entrances (or visited websites) in anticipation of a Black Friday deal. According to the National Retail Federation, that represented a 7% increase from the 212 million Black Friday shoppers last year.

Total spending on Black Friday reached an estimated $52.4 billion. According to the NRF, one quarter of Black Friday shoppers were at the stores by midnight Thursday, either waiting for the store to open or visiting those stores that opened at midnight.

Cyber Monday deals, meanwhile, also drew in a record number of online shoppers, up 33% from the Monday after Thanksgiving last year. According to IBM reports Consumers spent an average of 2.6% more this year than last on Cyber Monday. As expected a record number—10.8%--of shoppers used their smartphones or apps to shop, up 176% from last year.

"Consumers flocked online, with shopping momentum hitting its highest peak at 11:05am PST/2:05pm EST," IBM said in a statement. This showcases Americans growing comfort for online shopping. The top deals on Cyber Monday included a Samsung laptop from Amazon, 32” TV from Walmart, and Giada programmable coffee maker from Target. Even high-end stores like Saks Fifth Avenue followed suit offering 40% off its online inventory. IBM found that Cyber Monday brought in 29.3% more online sales than Black Friday did (although more shoppers were in the physical stores rather than online on Black Friday).

Most people who did their purchasing online did so using an Apple device. And Apple was the 5th most visited online retailer this Black Friday behind Amazon, Wal-mart, Best Buy, and Target. And to no surprise, considering Apple broke all records this Black Friday. Their goal was four times more than normal and, according to Apple 9to5Mac’s source, they beat that forecast by 7 p.m.

While some analysts claim that this is the season of practical living, Karen Katz, Neiman Marcus president and Chief Executive Officer says their target consumers—affluent buyers—are confident and, therefore, spending this season. She notes how attuned upscale consumers are to the stock market and the broader economy, but that Neiman’s is “well positioned with luxury fashion and the latest trends.” Although business has been “good”, they declined to comment on the Christmas forecast or beyond. According to Bloomburg however, luxury goods are making a comeback. And the International Council of Shopping Center reports that sales at luxury stores open at least a year will climb 7.5 percent in November and December, faster than the 6.7 percent increase a year earlier.

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Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Holiday Retail Trends to Watch

With only 16 days before Black Friday and 39 days until Christmas, retailers are scrambling to capture what is expected to be modest consumer spending. As such, we’re seeing mobile marketing, extended hours for convenience, and the need for added value from retailers shape up as among the top holiday retailing trends.

The hype over Black Friday, November 25th, is already reaching a fever pitch. Within the last few days big retailers such as Macy’s, Kohl’s, and Target have announced they will open for the first time at midnight of Thanksgiving. While many retailers extend their hours on Black Friday, many will be open 24 hours on November 25th. And it is most likely additional retailers will follow along in the next few weeks. Retailers are also offering online deals on Thanksgiving Day even if their store locations are closed for the holiday. It is all due to several reports that holiday spending will be less than grand. The NRF, for example, expects total spending during the holiday period to rise 2.8%, down from 5.2% increase last year.

According to Mashable Business, the busy holiday season has more shoppers buying online than ever before. They calculated that about 66% of shoppers are shopping online. National Jeweler, meanwhile, projects at least 50% of people will use their mobile phones in some capacity for holiday shopping, even if it is just to check store hours.

Whether online or in store, a key to consumer sales this season will be adding value. About 93% of online retailers plan to offer free shipping during the holidays, and brands like Amazon and Walmart are offering price matching.