Looking deeper at Black Friday results

Shelley E. Kohan
Shelley E. Kohan
Vice President of Retail Consulting

Traffic and shopping patterns for Black Friday reveal the personalities of several major shopper persona types

Traffic Insights
Black Friday traffic was down from last year (-10.9%) for the specialty store sector.


Some of this decrease in traffic may be attributed to the emotional roller coaster of Hurricane Sandy and those effected, especially in the Northeast coming off an emotional first few weeks of November and those wanting to spend time at home with family.  Additionally, with increasingly more shoppers researching products, pricing and availability of desired products from the comfort of their own homes, are making less stops at multiple retailers.  Shoppers are determining the products they want to purchase before they leave the house and they also are deciding which products they will have delivered to their door steps vs. the brick and mortar stores which will gain a personal visit from them.  This is especially evident by the strong increase in average transaction value of 10%.  The traffic to brick and mortar is also affected by the “preorder” plans offered by some retailers.  The pre-order is an excellent way to predict the success of holiday key items.  Retailers will understand the demand of these items and allow for better predicting of these quantities for holiday selling.  While this practice may decrease in-store traffic early in the season, the traffic will be made up later in the season.


Type of Shoppers
Black Friday brings out three different shoppers.  There are the Millennials who shop in groups and want to experience some type of “entertainment” value from the shopping experience.  Retailers in this market, need to ensure they are delivering both a “shopping environment” conducive to that age group and technology available in those shopping environments that allows Millennials to use their expertise and skills to make the shopping trip fun, efficient, and productive.  Making the offer personalized will just add to the allure and distract these shoppers from their habit of “showrooming”.  The second shopper is the “bargain hunter” who truly sees Black Friday as the ultimate game of finding the best product at the best price.  Their job is easier than it has ever been as retailers are being exceptionally transparent in the pricing and even offering competitive comparisons for the shoppers.  In addition, the plethora of information available on-line through mobile devices allows these shoppers to limit the number of stores they physically have to visit.  The third shopper is the “loyal” shopper who will choose to visit the stores who have done a great job building the relationship with that shopper.  When listing out the stores that a shopper will want to visit, the loyal retailer that has continued to show their shopper they have either best pricing and product availability or exclusive/unique merchandise will drive that shopper into their stores.


When looking at the early openings, the specialty store sector has a more likelihood of appealing to shoppers – primarily because of millennial shoppers, who have a tendency of shopping early morning (midnight to 3 am).  About 7% of specialty store traffic came in and out of the stores between midnight and 6 am.  However, when you look at sales for the same timeframe, only 3.5% of sales were processed.  The midnight openings tend to be more of a social event and mostly done in groups of shoppers.


While early openings may drive traffic to stores, the more productive parts of the day fall between 11 am and 3 pm which represents 48% of sales.