Retailers anticipate a 3.1% increase in sales on Black Friday this year, mirroring their projections from last year. However, a new a survey of top retail chief marketing officers by BDO USA shows that retailers have moderated their expectations for growth in Cyber Monday sales, predicting that sales will grow by 3.7% this year, down slightly from last year’s sunnier 4.3% growth projection.
Only 13% of retailers plan to begin their holiday promotions ahead of Black Friday, fewer than the proportion who don’t have any promotions lined up at all (16%) and equal to the proportion that plan to concentrate their promotions over the Thanksgiving weekend. And, further highlighting the decreasing emphasis on Thanksgiving weekend, half say they will spread their promotions evenly throughout the season. Regardless of timing, consumers can expect to see a growing number of discounts this holiday season: A majority of CMOs (63%) anticipate more deals this year.
Meanwhile, a plurality (47%) of CMOs plan to focus the majority of their promotions in-store, a 15% increase from last year, outpacing those who hope to focus online (13%) or equally across channels (39%). However, consumers can expect to see a broader variety of promotions to get them in stores. Last year, 66% of CMOs pointed to exclusive in-store deals as their favored tactic; this year, that number declined to 38%. Meanwhile, the percentage of CMOs citing exclusive in-store brands and partnerships doubled this year, and the proportion of retailers citing extended hours tripled.
Furthermore, free shipping remains a top online sales trigger for retailers, with a plurality (38%) citing it as their preferred online promotional tactic. However, retailers are increasingly turning to social media to drive sales. This year, 20% of CMOs cite social media promotions as a top tactic, a 43% increase since last year and a doubling since 2009. Simultaneously, e-mail promotions were cited by only 20%, down from 31% last year. E-mail is becoming an increasingly difficult way to get in front of consumers as providers, such as Gmail, begin to filter promotional emails out of users’ primary inboxes.
“Retailers understand that consumers are no longer limiting their shopping just to Black Friday and Cyber Monday,” says Ted Vaughan, partner with the Retail & Consumer Products practice at BDO. “Though they remain important shopping days, retailers feel less pressure to post major sales gains on these two days alone, and instead are focusing on offering a compelling experience for shoppers throughout the season.”