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Black Friday 2013: Retailers, Consumers Fight Tooth and Nail for Holiday Sales

Posted by Abe Sauer on November 29, 2013 03:03 PM

With seven million fewer people than last year expected to shop this holiday weekend, Black Friday promised to offer even greater, more desperate discounts and the subsequent sad, human spectacle those discounts guarantee. A tragic situation for retailers; a feast for the unsympathetic, bloodthirsty spectators of Rome America.

Still, the mad rush so far seems to have been worth it. Early reports are indicating solid consumer turnouts for Thanksgiving day/night sales, while e-commerce is already up 7 percent this year compared to last, according to IBM's Benchmark data. Mobile has appeared to be a strong player this year, accounting for 37 percent of all online shopping traffic and nearly 22 percent of sales as of noon, eastern-time, today. 

With sales starting as early as the afternoon of Thanksgiving itself, shoppers and spectators alike still well lubricated with wine, those looking for the melees of Black Friday found it early this year. Walmart seemed to be the epicenter of the chaos but other stores got mentions as well. So here's a Twitter round-up of some of the more notable incidents, plus one development that proves it isn't only Black Friday that's moving to Thursday.Continue reading...

black friday

Target Deploys Black Ops as Latest Holiday Sales Season Tactic

Posted by Abe Sauer on November 19, 2013 11:36 AM

Target is hoping you have a holly, jolly, CIA espionage Christmas.

With the holiday selling season looking to be one of the most cutthroat in memory, is it any surprise that one of the biggest names in retail is turning to an ex-CIA covert specialist?

"I really don’t know a thing about merchandising, but I do have a son. They convinced me that a lot of the skills I acquired over the years could help moms treat Christmas like a covert operation," former CIA operative, Jonna Mendez, said in a recent interview with the Minneapolis Star-Tribune. Mendez—a career "Chief of Disguise" for the CIA—will be dispensing advice on Target's sub-site Abullseyeview.com on how her “years spent as a top-secret agent" can benefit parents looking for the perfect Christmas gift. 

Target's hiring of Mendez may be a genuine attempt to find new sales tactics amid a grim consumer spending outlook, or it might just be a PR stunt to attract coverage like the Star-Tribune's. After all, the list of shopping tips "from the super sleuth" seem to stem a lot more from Encyclopedia Brown: Boy Detective than from the bowels of Langley, Va.Continue reading...

black friday

Black Friday In-Store Sales Undercut by Thanksgiving Early Birds, Mobile and Web

Posted by Shirley Brady on November 25, 2012 10:10 PM

The so-called "Grey Thursday" pre-Black Friday rush didn't seem to stop Walmart from having its best Black Friday ever. So how did it all play out over the weekend, and as Cyber Monday morphs into Mobile Monday?

According to the Wall Street Journal, "Total spending for the weekend reached an estimated $59.1 billion, a 13% increase from a year ago, according to the National Retail Federation. Last year the group said sales rose 16% over the weekend. A consumer survey conducted for the trade association by BIGinsight found that shoppers spent an average of $423 over the weekend, up 6% from $398 last Thanksgiving weekend."

As noted by Reuters, comScore estimated that "Black Friday sales during the 24 hours of November 23 passed $1 billion ($1.042 billion) in online sales for the first time, making it the heaviest online spending day to date in 2012 (with 57 million shoppers visiting e-commerce sites) and a 26-percent increase versus Black Friday 2011. Thanksgiving Day (November 22), while traditionally a lighter day for online holiday spending, achieved a strong 32-percent increase to $633 million."

According to IBM's Black Friday 2012 report, US shoppers once again took advantage of early promotions this holiday season, driving a 17.4 percent increase in online sales Thanksgiving Day. This increase set the stage for 20.7 percent growth on Black Friday. Online sales on Black Friday increased 21% over last year, IBM estimated by analyzing data from 500 retailers, including 50 of the 100 largest web retailers. The biggest surge came from mobile consumers, with sales reaching 16.3 percent, led by the iPad. Other takeaways by IBM:Continue reading...

black friday

Walmart's Biggest Black Friday Marred by Labor Dispute

Posted by Shirley Brady on November 23, 2012 07:58 AM

Black Friday shoppers in the US (and Canada) could set a record today, as the post-Thanksgiving annual retail rush is on.

Here in New York, just before midnight on Thanksgiving evening, I observed massive line-ups at the corner of Broadway and Lafayette for Adidas and Best Buy on the northeast corner of that intersection, and smaller queues starting at the southeast corner for Hollister, H&M, Uniqlo and, across the street, American Eagle and Victoria's Secret. Police, using bullhorns, tried to get the crowds to disperse by announcing, "Stores don't open until 8 A.M." — but the shoppers, mostly in their late teens and 20's it appeared, were undeterred.

All eyes, in particular, are on Walmart today, which has been downplaying the threat of OUR Walmart-organized employee strike action at its stores across the US, which are being organized online and shared on Twitter via the #walmartstrikers#changewalmart and #makingchange hashtags, and on Tumblr.Continue reading...

black friday

Google Expands Indoor Retail Maps in Time for Black Friday

Posted by Shirley Brady on November 22, 2012 03:03 PM

This holiday shopping season is all about mobile, and Google wants to help Black Friday shoppers not get lost. Last November, the Google Maps app headed indoors, mapping the interiors of locations such as IKEA, airports and shopping meccas such as Mall of America. This month, it expanded its indoor retail mapping in time for Black Friday sales beyond Android devices, and now offers "over 10,000 detailed floor plans of locations in nine countries," including Macy's New York City flagship. Google is also promoting its voice-activated search app this holiday season.

black friday

Pee-Commerce: The Curious Places Where America Goes Holiday Shopping

Posted by Sheila Shayon on November 21, 2012 01:08 PM

Americans are shopping en masse on mobile devices and increasingly in unusual places, including (ahem!) on the toilet, according to new research from CashStar, the digital gifting and incentives firm. And not because they're supporters of World Toilet Day.

Apparently, more than 38 million online adult Americans have shopped in the can — men, it seems, more prone to that kind of multitasking than women, in case you were wondering — while almost 17 million have shopped on their mobile device while standing in the retailer's physical store.

"Smartphones and tablets have enabled consumers to shop and gift on-the-go in more ways and places than ever before," said David Stone, co-founder and CEO of CashStar.

Other report findings include:

  • More than four million have shopped online while driving a car.
  • More than nine million admitted secretly shopping while in a business meeting.
  • More than seven million have filled their grocery and online shopping carts at the same time.

"The retailers who have been paying attention and catering to where and how consumers want to shop by mobile-optimizing their e-commerce sites and offering mobile eGift Cards will reap the rewards this holiday season and have a jump on the competition going into 2013,” added Stone.Continue reading...

black friday

Apps Help Fuel Black Friday as Cyber Monday Morphs Into "Mobile Monday"

Posted by Barry Silverstein on November 21, 2012 12:02 PM

The annual holiday shopping hysteria is upon us, and this year's Thanksgiving madness promises to be more mobile than ever. In fact, a new survey indicates 28 percent of adult consumers who own smartphones or tablets will use them to shop on Thanksgiving day. That's nearly double last year's percentage.

As 20 percent of shoppers definitely plan to shop on Black Friday, they'll be enabled by QR codes (although almost 60 percent of shoppers don't know how to use them) as well as apps from websites and retailers catering to shoppers with smartphones and tablets. And beyond Black Friday throughout the holiday season, more so than ever this year.

"Apps will play a particularly strong role for driving commerce this holiday season," reports Mobile Commerce Daily. Nearly a third of smartphone owners will download a shopping app to use for holiday shopping, according to a Pricegrabber study and of those, over 80 percent will use their smartphones this holiday season in an effort to save money on purchases. eMarketer puts that figure at about 53%.

This year, retailers have resigned themselves to the fact that "showrooming" (checking out merchandise at stores and purchasing online) is the new competitive environment. "Consumers have been empowered by shopping apps," said Alexander Muse, founder of the Future Of Retail Alliance. "They've been armed with more product knowledge than clerks in most retail stores have. Retailers used to be threatened by this; now, they are finding ways to capitalize on it — such as through aggressive price-matching, as well as ship-to-store and other omnichannel strategies. That's the big difference between Black Friday 2011 and Black Friday 2012."Continue reading...

black friday

Black Friday Watch: Walmart Braces for Doorbusters, Downplays Labor Threat

Posted by Dale Buss on November 20, 2012 06:03 PM

It's the holiday season already, but we're getting a late start on the whole peace and goodwill thing.

Peace? Don't look for it in millions of American homes on Thanksgiving afternoon as household members square off on whether they'll start hitting Target and other chains that are going to open that evening, or forswear what many see as one new intrusion too many on family traditions. Few retailers are as gutsy as Gander Mountain, the outdoor-retailing chain that is going the whole bird on Thanksgiving Day — open in many locations from 9 a.m. to midnight. However, as more bricks-and-mortar retailers invade the once-sacred time-space of Thanksigiving itself, preferring not to leave shopping on that day to the internet realm alone, they also are sparking more protests and regrets from rank-and-file Americans.

Goodwill? There won't be much of that in evidence at some Walmarts around the US on Friday, which is offering price-matching and a one-hour in-stock guarantee to shoppers — and the possibility of being short-staffed to handle the rush. Now that the chain seems to have gotten physical threats to doorbusters under control by preventing them from trampling one another, a new threat looms large: potential walkouts by workers and disruptions at about 1,000 stores across the country, caused by labor agitators who are organizing protests by as many members of Walmart's non-union workforce as they can.Continue reading...

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