Thanksgiving is just around the corner, and with it comes the promise of the year’s biggest shopping event, Black Friday. Here's a quick look at last year's edition, to see what we can expect from the upcoming shopping bonanza.

The History

The term, in its retail connotation, was coined in the 1960s to signify the start of the Christmas shopping season. Black ink used in accounting ledgers denoted a profit while red ink indicated a loss. The Friday after Thanksgiving since the 1924 Macy’s Thanksgiving Parade, has been flagging off a lively holiday retail experience, where many employees often get the day off in order to shop to their hearts’ content. The day has come a long way from people queuing up outside brick-and-mortar stores for hours to planning out their purchases online, through advertisement scans and coupons.

2018 was driven by consumer electronics

Black Friday 2018 saw 165 million people shop, with 35-44 year-olds spending an average of $413 over the weekend. It crossed $6.2 billion in online sales itself, showing a growth of 23.6% YoY. There were great deals for televisions and computers with prices coming down by 18%. Along with this, 2.8% of product page visits saw an out-of-stock message costing retailers up to $177 million. PlayStation and Nintendo Switch consoles, Apple iPhones and iPads, and Amazon Kindles and Echos turned out to be the most shopped-for items in 2018. Although apparel and accessories sold in increased number, technology still seems to be the biggest thing on peoples’ minds.

Survey of what people are planning to shop before Black Friday 2018 (source)

Mobile traffic is increasing

Mobile devices appear to be the most widely used for shopping on Black Friday. Last year, 67% of all digital traffic on Black Friday was on mobile devices, up from 61% the previous year. With mobile devices being used so extensively for shopping, it makes sense that retailers and brands have been sending out more text messages to customers—a 29% increase YoY on Black Friday and a whopping 159% on Thanksgiving.

With the use of several technologies to effectively provide potential shoppers with lucrative deals, social media platforms have become extremely useful during such holiday shopping seasons to drive traffic towards retail sites; the use of social media on Thanksgiving ‘18 rose an interesting 41%. The use of Instagram and Pinterest to look for deals increased by 71% and 45% respectively.

Shopping channels of choice for Black Friday 2018 (source)

Holiday shopping isn't easy

Almost 70% of an average Black Friday weekend shopper’s spending is on gifts. However, around half of these shoppers end up not knowing what gift to buy. And with around 10-15% of shoppers not having a fixed holiday shopping budget, things tend to get quite confusing for the average shopper, making shopping assistance a major requirement. On the other hand, there are a large number of shoppers who are considerably well prepared. Assigning a budget for the season and researching in prior about the best places to buy a product is typical of around 85% of shoppers.

Primary concerns around holiday shopping (source)

This holiday shopping season concept seems to be gaining steam outside the US too, with retailers beginning to capitalise massive sales driven by discount. Between 2015 and 2017, the number of people who said they participated in Black Friday grew from 19-54% in the UK and from 9-43% in Germany.

Predicted bestsellers for 2019

This Black Friday and Thanksgiving season, the top-grossing products can well be expected to include the new iPhone 11, Samsung Galaxy S10, Google Pixel 4, Xbox One and Sony PlayStation 4. Some retailers like Best Buy are also offering free delivery with no minimum purchase—something that is bound to seal the deal in several cases. One just needs to wait and see if the predicted statistics actually play out.

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