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Online Shopping Shifts Black Friday Activity

Black Friday isn’t confined to stores anymore, as more consumers favor online shopping for their holiday purchases.

Many brick-and-mortar consumers stayed home on Black Friday, due to the popularity of online shopping and earlier deals, Bloomberg reported. According to Adobe Systems Inc., e-commerce sales reached $5.27 billion on Thanksgiving and Black Friday, which was 18 percent higher than last year. Mobile device revenue also rose to $1.2 billion on Black Friday, while shoppers purchased gifts digitally and avoided stores.

“I’ve been doing this for 40 years, and I’ve never seen a Friday morning be this quiet,” NPD Group Chief Industry Analyst Marshal Cohen told Bloomberg. “Thursday has stolen Friday, there’s no question about it.”

Despite Black Friday’s altered activity, traditional brick-and-mortar retailers are scrambling to sustain shoppers with their Cyber Monday and Cyber Week initiatives. With the incentive to spend less, consumers are demanding more promotions, which will put pressure on retailers to compete for limited market share.

“In a perfect world, everyone would sell everything at full price,” NRF Chief Executive Officer Matthew Shay told Bloomberg. “But as consumers, and as buyers, all of us would like to get a deal on things we’d like to buy.”

According to a recent report from Cowen and Company, online growth is expected to increase by 20 percent on Cyber Monday, with mobile driving 55 percent of consumer traffic. Retailers, including Target, are offering sitewide deals from Thanksgiving to Monday, which provides shoppers the opportunity to access discounts throughout the week, not only select days.

As retailers battle to offer the best deals and shipping for products, Cowen said that they also need to plan accordingly for post-holiday sales and potential margin pressure. If website promotions are not executed accordingly, retailers could potentially be left with less items to sell at full-price once Cyber Week concludes. Furthermore, if average check sizes are below $40 to $50, retailers could be faced with margin pressure from discounts and free shipping.

“A silver lining is that most retailers should have been prepared for low store traffic, high online traffic, and a highly promotional atmosphere after many years of this continuing dynamic,” the report said.

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Additionally, consumers can expect the deepest discounts at apparel retailers on Cyber Monday, including Abercrombie and Old Navy, where clothes will be 50 percent off original prices. Although Black Friday store traffic is declining, consumers can still enjoy the holiday shopping experience and not miss out on the best deals with retailers’ ongoing Cyber Week offers.