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New Survey: Thanksgiving is the New Black Friday

According to a new survey, deal-hungry consumers won’t be waiting for Black Friday sales this year, they’ll be scouring sites between turkey bites on Thanksgiving Day.

Adobe Digital Index released its 2013 Online Shopping Forecast citing that retailers will be scrambling to make up sales where they can, as this online shopping season will be the shortest since 2002 with only 27 days between Thanksgiving and Christmas compared to 33 days in 2012.

“In 2010 Thanksgiving was a below-average sales day, but over the past three years it has grown faster than any other day for online sales. If current growth rates continue, brick-and-click retailers are expected to sell more online on Thanksgiving Day than on Black Friday within the next 5 years,” the report notes.

This year’s online sales are still expected to increase by 12 percent over last year, but with six fewer days in the season, Adobe predicts retailers will lose $1.5 billion in potential online sales.

To combat the loss, successful retailers will give eager shoppers a reason to give thanks early with some of the best deals beginning on Thanksgiving Day. This year, Thanksgiving will break into the “billion-dollar-day” club with sales expected to reach $1.1 billion, a 21 percent jump over last year. Black Friday sales should be up 17 percent from 2012 and Cyber Monday is forecast to break records as the highest single online shopping day ever with sales over $2.27 billion, a 15 percent jump from last year.

Mobile purchases will also play a significant role this season as 40 percent of shoppers surveyed said they would buy more from mobile devices than they had in the previous year. They’ll shop while visiting family on Thanksgiving Day or while waiting in long Black Friday lines. Retailers that are already optimized for mobile shopping can expect more than 20 percent of online sales to come from mobile device purchases–a record high.

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The trend toward showrooming (visiting a store to see what can be purchased online) will continue to be hot this season and retailers that offer “sophisticated, holiday-focused mobile apps, geofencing, and location-based promotional strategies” will benefit by getting customers to shop online while in-store.

With a nod to the ever-connected millennial shopper, Adobe noted that 36 percent of consumers surveyed said they turn to social networks before making holiday purchase decisions, a number significant enough to warrant amped up social media sales promotions. Advertising impressions for retailers are up 85 percent over last year on social media sites.

Adobe says, “Losing six days will mean more frenetic, distracted shoppers–ones who will need a highly personalized marketing offer to capture their attention. Retailers will be able to offset those lost days and drive online sales by focusing on special holiday apps, innovative social media campaigns, free express shipping for last-minute shoppers, and early promotions well before Black Friday. This shopping season will be very different than ever before–for consumers and for retailers.”

Survey findings are based on analysis of 450 billion visits to more than 2,000 retail websites during the past seven years, which, according to Adobe, is possibly the largest and most accurate prediction model for an annual forecast. Last year’s predictions came within 1 percent of actual sales numbers.