Black Friday 2015: Store traffic is down, but the shopping experience remains crucial

by Infor Retail December 4, 2015 Customer Experience

The numbers are in, and as expected, Black Friday 2015 is a fascinating microcosm for the big, overarching trends that are redefining today’s retail landscape. Here are some of the lessons learned:

  •  Black Friday sales are down by about $1 billion dollars, with the big losses primarily in brick-and-mortar stores. Instead of rushing out at 5 a.m. to catch doorbuster deals, shoppers opted to shop online—leading to reduced foot traffic and increased sales for online shops like Amazon, whose Cyber Monday sales jumped by 22% over last year.
  • REI’s #OptOutside experiment, which meant each of the store’s physical locations was closed on Black Friday, was a resounding success—not just as a PR move, but as a sales driver as well. Per stats from SimilarWeb, the REI site saw a 10% traffic increase on Thanksgiving Day, as well as a 26% increase on Black Friday.
  • E-commerce continues its expansion beyond the desktop this year. While digital sales increased by 21.5% from last year, smartphones accounted for nearly 45% of that traffic. Another significant mobile figure: tablet shoppers spent an average of $136 per order, beating out desktops which averaged $134.06 per order and smartphone users who spent an average of $121.06.
  • Experience is everything. Shoppers don’t want to get up early, so they typically kick off their Black Friday hunting in the afternoon. Then when they get into the store, 82% of smartphone users consult with their phones to streamline the shopping process.
  • Many consumers—us included—woke up the day after Thanksgiving with an inbox full of promotional marketing. And it seems the heavy outreach was successful: email drove 25.1% of all online orders this Black Friday.

Now that Black Friday 2015 is over, what’s next? According to Google, store traffic—the number of people shopping in brick-and-mortar stores—doesn’t peak on Black Friday, but on the Saturday before Christmas.

With 2016 on the horizon, retailers need to think beyond the one-off marketing holiday. Because if there’s anything 2015 taught us, it’s that retailers don’t need Black Friday nearly as much as they need relevant, beautiful, convenient customer experiences.

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