Make or Break: Inside A Retailer On Black Friday

The biggest shopping weekend of the year has ended, but one of the biggest questions remains—did people go out to shop? In 2018, the data revealed the continuation of a growing trend from years past. E-commerce proved to dominate the consumer spending landscape throughout the United States and beyond.

Adobe Analytics reported that a whopping $3.7 billion was spent online on Thanksgiving Day, making it the fastest growing day for online sales in history. Many experts attribute this gargantuan figure to retailers offering sales earlier than the traditional Black Friday deals. Also included in the report was an eye-opening number, $1 billion, which was spent by shoppers exclusively through smartphones over the Thanksgiving holiday.

E-commerce giants like Amazon are to credit for the surge in online transactions prior to the typical e-spending holiday, Cyber Monday, because of their exponential growth in customers and increasingly expedited shipping times. Amazon Founder and CEO Jeff Bezos’ net worth grew an estimated $6 billion after the Cyber Monday holiday, which set a new record for daily sales at the company.

Preliminary figures from ShopperTrak show that physical visits to stores declined almost 2 percent around the nation for Black Friday.

Even traditionally high-selling and popular fast fashion chains like H&M experienced a decline in in-store visits. Daniel Henderson, department manager at the retailer’s Galleria Mall location in Dallas, Texas broke down some of its success and explained why in-store visits declined at the brick-and-mortar.

“Overall, this year was a success for our store. We started with a goal to sell $90,000 on Black Friday but exceeded that by a substantial number,” Henderson said.

As lucrative as the holiday is for retailers like H&M, Henderson was surprised by the decline in foot traffic year-over-year. The Galleria location saw a 7 percent decline in physical visits compared to 2017.

“Last year, we had lines outside the door and beyond with people ready to shop our exclusive Black Friday Collection, but this year we didn’t offer any exclusive clothing lines, and I think that played a major role in the lack of enthusiasm for in-store shopping this year,” Henderson said.

Traditionally, H&M collaborates with the likes of high-end fashion houses, athletes, and celebrities to create in-store exclusives to attract customers on what to many is a no longer necessary day of fighting long lines and traffic to physically shop on Black Friday. Instead, the retailer opted to entice its customers with a myriad of price reductions and clearance sales.

In terms of managing this hectic holiday, Henderson was pleased by how the store prepared its stock, allocated items appropriately, and made sure no customer would leave without an item they wanted.

“We had a lot of typically-popular items sell the quickest, but we already had a good idea of what the big sellers would be, so we made sure to market the items accordingly and fill the store and the back thoroughly and efficiently,” Henderson said.

H&M was not left out of the online sales boom this year, either. According to Henderson, the figures between online sales and in-store show just how popular online shopping has become in the age of e-commerce.

“So, we had over 11,000 people visit the store on Black Friday, but only 2,400 people actually purchased something. For online sales, the data shows that in our area (which includes the Galleria and nearby Northpark Mall location) we had over 15,000 people not only visit the website, but also purchase at least one item. That was a big surprise to me.”

While the data continues to be analyzed to determine just how successful this year’s iteration of Black Friday was, one thing remains clear—e-commerce is changing the Black Friday landscape for good.

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