Thanksgiving Day and Black Friday weekend trends to watch

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2013Holiday_Blog_ShoporgRetailers and consumers are geared up for the first of several big holiday shopping weeks. According the latest research conducted by Prosper Insights and Analytics for NRF, 140 million U.S. consumers plan shop over Thanksgiving and Black Friday weekend. For retailers, there are a few trends going into this key period:

The word will go out early. Over half of retailers surveyed plan to get the word out about holiday weekend specials at least five or six days in advance – if not earlier – via email and search.

Thanksgiving Day shopping is poised to grow. Nearly one-quarter of U.S. consumers (33 million) plan to shop on Thanksgiving Day this year. Retailers are ready: 53 percent of retailers surveyed are planning special online promotions specifically for Thanksgiving Day.

Looking back to last year, nearly three out of 10 holiday shoppers were at stores by midnight on Thanksgiving, up from 24 percent in 2011 and just 10 percent in 2010. Additionally, millennials were out in force – more than one-third shopped on Thanksgiving Day in 2012.

Online shopping saw a similar surge. In 2012, comScore found that Thanksgiving Day sales topped $633 million, a 32 percent increase from 2011. Across its retail clients, Akamai saw an early peak in page views from North American online consumers at 10:40 a.m. Eastern time on Thanksgiving Day, with later peaks hitting at approximately 6 p.m. and 9 p.m. that evening as well. It’s becoming a new-found tradition for millions of Americans, no matter the channel.

Retailers are ready for Black Friday in-store… According to the same NRF survey, approximately 97 million U.S. shoppers plan to shop on Black Friday this year. Knowing that many consumers shop across touch points, retailers are tapping the full range of online vehicles to promote their in-store specials and events for that day. Two-thirds of retailers plan to use email to get the word out, over half will use Facebook, and 45 percent will use home page messaging and search marketing, according to research. Twitter, mobile alerts, blogs, Pinterest, Instagram and other tactics round out the picture.

… and will continue promotions to buy online throughout the weekend. Holiday shoppers also will find reasons to shop online over Black Friday weekend. For example, 44 percent of retailers surveyed will offer specific deals and promotions while the same number will use a special email campaign and 41 percent will offer a one-day sale. And for online shoppers looking for a break on shipping costs, 27 percent will offer free shipping at a lower-than-usual minimum purchase level, while 20 percent will offer free shipping on all purchases.

The complete Black Friday weekend shopping picture. Trends for Black Friday weekend are similar to the increases in online and in-store shopping seen on Thanksgiving Day. Customized charts in the Retail Insight Center show average spending over the weekend has grown steadily over time — from $360 in 2006 to $423 in 2012. Looking at online-only, the portion of spending over these days has grown significantly from an average of just 23 percent in 2006 to 40 percent in 2012. This means we’re getting very close to a world where Black Friday weekend spending will be half online, half in-store. members can download the full results of the eHoliday 2013 Pre-Holiday Study results from the site.

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