I know, I know. So many holiday-themed forecasts have taken over our blog recently. Luckily for you, today we’re not going over any forecasts. That’s right. Let’s take the guesswork out of the picture and review the Thanksgiving holiday weekend results.
The Stars Aligned for Retail Thanksgiving Weekend
Last week, forecasts advised retailers to brace themselves and anticipated 164 million shoppers on Turkey Day weekend. The results? More than 174 million Americans shopped in stores and online between Thanksgiving Day and Cyber Monday.
What an awesome way to start the holiday shopping season. Mark Shay, CEO of NRF, believes the stars aligned for the retail industry this past weekend:
“From good weather across the country to low unemployment and strong consumer confidence, the climate was right, literally and figuratively, for consumers to tackle their holiday shopping lists online and in stores.” - NRF
Retail Tech Pays Off
But it wasn’t all about good weather and timing. Retail technology investments are paying off, mostly with respect to creating a unified commerce experience for shoppers; over 64 million consumers shopped both online and in stores. If that’s not indicative of a seamless experience, I don’t know what is. :) In addition, the multichannel shopper spent $82 MORE on average than the online-only shopper and $49 MORE on average than the exclusively in-store shopper.
Who Shopped Where and When
What’s really interesting, according to retail analyst Oliver Chen, is even though in-store traffic declined, more purchases were made in-stores compared to last year. Additionally, Black Friday and Small Business Saturday were the most popular days for in-store shopping this year.
As for e-commerce, Adobe Analytics predicted $20 billion in online spending for the Thanksgiving weekend alone—a significant contribution towards the record-breaking $100 billion US online holiday sales expected by the end of the year. Cyber Monday and Black Friday were the most popular days for e-commerce, however, Thanksgiving Day sales generated higher online shopping cart values ($180) than Black Friday ($168)!
While families came together to celebrate, relax and enjoy their favorite dishes on Thursday, many also started their holiday shopping quest online. Thanksgiving Day saw higher than expected online sales overall, hitting $2.87 billion, whereas in 2016 Thanksgiving Day sales totaled $1.93 billion. That’s an 18.3 percent increase!
Positive Customer Experience = Positive Holiday Season for Retail
Fung Global Retail & Technology visited 33 stores in six U.S. markets over the Black Friday weekend and evaluated each store experience on a scale of 1-10. Taking into account traffic, promotion level, inventory, retailtainment options and use of technology, here are the main takeaways from the weekend:
- Decent Black Friday traffic and inventory levels across stores, with Nike, Walmart, and Best Buy among the top performers.
- Quality of in-store customer experience was positive—store associates were helpful, retail technology was used to check out-of-stock items, and retailtainment options were in full swing.
- Cold and dry weather benefitted seasonal apparel categories and drove store traffic in the eastern U.S.
- Limited use of retail technology at the stores visited (compared to the wide use of tech in Asian retail markets), however, in-store entertainment options were a huge focus for many.
Here’s the overall score breakdown for each retailer FGRT visited:
Overall, retail seems to be wrapping up the year on a positive note. Considering this past year was a total whirlwind of disruption for the industry, filled with record store closings and bankruptcies, these results show promise for holiday season spending and beyond.
Based on FGRT’s findings, there’s still so much room for improvement when it comes to retail technology. The overall consumer experience is top of mind for retailers and using retail tech tools, like advanced analytics and artificial intelligence, can help execute on this goal. Ensuring retailers are making the best use of their inventory and exceeding customer expectations across all stages of the purchase journey is crucial—even beyond the holiday season.
As the holiday shopper spending results roll in and 2017 comes to an end, the ups AND downs in retail over the past year are up for review. Check out our webcast replay with Fung Global Retail & Technology to gain insights on the biggest takeaways from 2017 and tips on how to succeed in 2018.