By Susan J. Levine and Elisa Foster
Last week, we asked you to take a quick poll about your plans to go shopping on Thanksgiving and Black Friday. While a large majority of those who took our poll said they would not shop on either day, retailers lured big crowds into the stores with aggressive marketing and steep discounts. The National Retail Federation estimates that a record 141 million people took advantage of the holiday sales over the four-day weekend that began on Thanksgiving and ended on Sunday. For many Americans, Black Friday shopping – and recently Thanksgiving Day shopping – has become a holiday tradition. We all know families who finish Thanksgiving dinner then immediately start planning their trips to the local malls and standing in line outside of big box stores.
However, “the economy spoke loud and clear over the past few days,” according to the CEO of Belus Capital Advisors. People flocked to the stores, but they didn’t spend much money. Shoppers spent an estimated 1.7 billion dollars less than they did last year and physical stores saw their first decline in spending on Black Friday weekend since 2009.
While brick and mortar stores suffered a decrease in spending, consumers flooded the Internet over the weekend and on Cyber Monday. In fact, Cyber Monday shopping increased by 18% compared to last year. And notably, mobile shopping (from smartphones and tablets) accounted for 30% of all online traffic.
This drastic increase in online shopping and use of mobile technology is a sign of the times. Americans across age, income and ethnic lines are becoming more comfortable conducting business and making purchases online. For instance, in a recent survey conducted by Melior, 70% of respondents said they pay bills online. The increasing success of Cyber Monday is just another sign that technology and online shoppers (a.k.a. Invisible Customers) will continue to impact our economy in future years.
Now that we’ve talked about holiday spending, it’s time to focus on holiday giving. Stay tuned for our update on Giving Tuesday and how we can all give back this holiday season.