Thanksgiving shopping crowds ‘good not great’; online sales strong

27 Nov 2015 | Author: | No comments yet »

Black Friday shopping vs. spending time with family: #tellusatoday.

Many people were picking up discounted items in popular categories like toys, but there were also quite a few customers hustling to make a last minute run for their Thanksgiving meal, James said.LONDON — The British don’t celebrate Thanksgiving, of course, but they have enthusiastically embraced another great American holiday tradition: Black Friday. Several chains opened Thursday afternoon or evening Many retailers in hopes of luring shoppers with doorbuster deals ahead of Black Friday, traditionally the starting line for the crucial holiday season.

There’s a friendly competition on our road for who can put up the most creative display, so currently our girls are designing up an inventive cocktail of Warehouse lights, crepe paper and painted sheep skulls. At one flagship Asda store in northwest London, part of a retail chain owned by Walmart, one young woman was seen on the floor, desperately clinging to a 40-inch discounted television as several teenagers tried to grab it away. Next week it’s the annual end of year Christmas party in the little old hall near the crossroads, a great opportunity to catch up with neighbours and see what they are planning for the holidays. In Middleton, in Greater Manchester, 200 shoppers barricaded themselves in a Tesco store demanding the promised sale goods, even after all the stock had been depleted.

The BBC reported that shoppers in different parts of the country had experienced gridlock, biting, pinching, punching, kicking and stock flying through the air as people leapt over barriers to get their hands on heavily discounted items. Since the 1990s Black Friday has seen most US retailers open early and offer deeply discounted bargains which have regularly made it the busiest shopping day in the year. Police reinforcements had to be called in at stores all across the country for Black Friday, a name apparently coined by the Philadelphia Police Department in the early 1960s to describe the shopping and traffic turmoil that followed the holiday.

In 2005 by the digital part of the US National Retailers Federation decided they wanted some of the Thanksgiving action and started the first Cyber Monday. This year, the retail industry’s anxiety has ratcheted up after retailers including Macy’s and Nordstrom reported disappointing third-quarter results.

The National Retail Federation, a trade group, forecasts that sales during November and December will climb 3.7% to $630.5 billion, slightly below the 4.1% growth of last year. Asda said it was dropping Black Friday this year because of “shopper fatigue.” “This year customers have told us loud and clear that they don’t want to be held hostage to a day or two of sales,” said Andy Clarke, the company’s chief executive. Charlie O’Shea, lead retail analyst at Moody’s Investors Service, said signs in the retail industry have been so mixed that it’s impossible to predict how the holidays will really shake out. Nevertheless, Black Friday seems here to stay in one form or another, leading many to question exactly why their country seems to have so quickly adopted a distasteful commercial binge that exists in the United States only because Friday is a holiday for many people.

One survey, conducted by Deloitte & Touche, found that shoppers anticipated spending $1,463 on average during the holiday season, up from about $1,300 a year earlier. Indeed, a Black Friday backlash appears to be gathering force at a time when some traditionalists are already bemoaning the way that Halloween, with its kitsch and goofy costumes and edible eyeball cakes, is slowly supplanting Guy Fawkes Day, the four-centuries-old British festival that falls on Nov. 5. “We have plenty of our own traditions, such as Morris dancing, boarding schools, warm beer and aristocrats, many of which are even weirder than marshmallow-topped potatoes,” said Sarah Vine, a columnist for The Daily Mail. “But at least we don’t try to shove them on unsuspecting foreigners.” Sensing a populist cause, some members of Parliament, including Jeremy Corbyn, who is now opposition Labour leader, put forward a nonbinding motion in the House of Commons last January railing against large retailers who chose to adopt “the American retail custom of Black Friday,” saying it was an affront to public order and a drain on police resources. Sir Peter Bottomley, a Conservative member of Parliament, said he had signed the motion after several shoppers were seriously injured during Black Friday shopping skirmishes. “In a country of polite queuing, some people forgot British patience because they were so excited about special offers,” he said. The British media has credited Amazon, the e-commerce juggernaut, with first importing Black Friday in 2010 when it started to offer Black Friday discounts, spurring other retailers to follow suit. Online sales were headed for a record $1.7 billion, up 22% from last Thanksgiving, based on more than 100 million visits to more than 4,500 U.S. retail sites.

But it was when the retailer Asda, inspired by its parent company Walmart, began marketing Black Friday offers in its stores two years ago that the phenomenon really took off, according to the company. Black Friday is big business in Britain, and the Center for Retail Research estimates that online spending alone on Friday will reach 966 million pounds, or $1.46 billion. Held last week, Click Monday 2015 seemed to have lost many of the big names it had last year – like Hallensteins, Bendon and Mighty Ape – and while user sessions were up to 100,000, they had less than 900 offers and the overall number of merchants was down to 68.

Because sales happen on the retailers sites Click Monday doesn’t have visibility into total sales, but a couple of years ago they had some card transaction analysis undertaken which suggested total sales of close to $2.5m. Last year, Black Friday lost its perennial No. 1 spot after earlier Thanksgiving day opening hours pushed some sales forward into Thursday, Martin said. John Lewis said that it would be announcing unspecified discounts on unspecified electrical items that would remain top secret for unspecified reasons until Black Friday began. Asked why the chain had embraced Black Friday, Jack Gorman, a spokesman, appeared to attribute the phenomenon to a pack mentality. “I don’t know,” he said. “It’s one of these things that everyone picked up on.” In an emailed statement, he added: “Black Friday is hugely popular with our customers and they now expect it from us as a major U.K. retailer.” At a branch of the traditional retail chain Marks & Spencer in Islington, North London, a giant sign on the store’s window promoted “Black Friday Weekend” and 50 percent discounts on selected items including cashmere sweaters, nightwear and Christmas crackers. Valerie Faulkner, 41, an assistant producer at an events company who was walking through the store, said she initially had no idea that Black Friday was an American tradition until she searched for it on Google. “I don’t think most people realize it’s an American custom,” she said. “I just assumed it was some marketing ploy by shops to get rid of lousy, unwanted items before Christmas.”

The combination of daily deal websites, Amazon’s insatiable desire for driving entire markets down, and big retailers offering cyber Monday prices every day; often means cyber Monday prices aren’t sufficiently attractive. As I write this column Mighty Ape are offering 70 per cent discounts, Torpedo7 are offering a 50 per cent Christmas sale and Kathmandu are staging a 48 hour 60 per cent off online Summit Club sale. Many pundits are already picking that growth may have peaked last year, so the numbers will be interesting to see if indeed cyber Monday gets passed by everyday ecommerce.

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