Silver Bells, Loyal Bells: Black Friday Is Changing, Are You Changing With It?

Mike Grimes
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Fun fact: the term “Black Friday” was first used in the United States to describe a financial crisis in 1869. The first time Black Friday referred to shopping the day after Thanksgiving was in 1961 via a Philadelphia Police Department newsletter to keep shoppers from flooding the roadways to get to retail shops in the downtown area.

Remember the good old days when Black Friday sales actually started on Black Friday? As the saying goes, the only constant in life is change, and so goes the shopping phenomenon that began as the “official” kickoff to the holiday shopping season. For years, shoppers had been all too glad to set their alarms for the wee hours of the morning to get to their favorite retail stores by 4 or 5 a.m. Many retailers even opened their stores on Thanksgiving, giving shoppers just enough time to finish the pumpkin pie and catch the end of a Thanksgiving NFL game.

But in the past few years, Black Friday has extended well beyond and prior to the Friday after Thanksgiving. In many cases, it starts in early November and travels on until right before the big day. The truth is, even though Black Friday is still a very important selling opportunity that retailers cannot miss out on, it has remade itself into more of a symbol for the holiday season.

According to Steven Barr, consumer markets leader for PwC and Forbes contributor, Black Friday has morphed into Black November. “Black Friday has lost its significance. Retailers have conditioned the consumer to believe everything’s on sale every day, which means the deals on Black Friday are not significantly different from any other time.”

And the numbers don’t lie. Research from PwC shows that only 35% of shoppers who plan to shop during Thanksgiving week will do so on Black Friday, down from 51% in 2016 and 59% in 2015.

So, Black Friday isn’t what it used to be. No big deal. Most retailers aren’t panicking about the demise of holiday shopping and we, as consumers, will still be on the lookout for sales on the most popular items on the shelf. After all, earlier this month, the National Retail Federation (NRF) projected that retail sales will increase between 3.6-4% over last year’s total. What retailers do worry about is how they can sustain the boost that holiday shopping brings to their stores for the long term.

The answer? Loyalty, loyalty, loyalty.

Loyalty Beyond the Winter Wonderland of the Holidays

Last year, we blogged about how retailers can and should make loyalty last a lifetime, not just a day or, more accurately, a month. When it comes to boosting a retailer’s bottom-line, the best strategy is keeping the most loyal – and most profitable – customers happy. The most successful retailers are those that think beyond popular “discount days” and strive to build customer loyalty via delightful customer experiences, competitive pricing and highly relevant offers.

Holiday shoppers will go online to find the best deals; that’s a sure thing. But they will also still be making their way into the store, too. So why not implement ways to interact with in-store customers that not only deliver unique customer engagement, trust and loyalty, but provide more than traditional and blanketed discounting and offers? During the Black Friday season, and well after, shoppers want offers that are highly personal and relevant -- and presented to them via channels they find convenient and compelling.

Interested in learning more about Ecrebo and our powerful marketing platform that enables retailers to deliver targeted offers and communications to customers directly at the POS alongside their paper or digital receipts? Contact us today to meet with us at the NRF BIG Show in booth #250.



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