Holiday shopping is a big money spinner for retailers and eCommerce is reshaping the very concept. The COVID has ensured many of the changes observed in the past months have a big impact on holiday shopping. It is significant for retailers considering this is among the most lucrative and meticulously planned seasons of the calendar. The lockdown and the looming uncertain effects all but ensure seasonal shopping – Black Friday, Christmas, etc – will be unrecognizable from past years. The profitability of these events have been steadily falling over the years. At this point, not having a strategy to address this inevitable change of these events will have a negative impact on businesses.
The Black Friday phenomenon is one of the great American innovations in retail. It has been adapted, globalized and has been updated but the US market has witnessed big changes this year. In an unprecedented move retail giant, Walmart and subsidiary Sam’s Club will be closing on Thanksgiving. This is notably the day that kicks off Black Friday and the official holiday season. It has been overtaken by the Saturday before Christmas as the biggest shopping day of the year. Part due to rapid rise in online sale in general and offering Christmas discounts as early as late October. Walmart expects the trend to continue but at an accelerated pace this year. Strategic investment in eCommerce appears to continue bearing fruits.
No doubt Black Friday was the inspiration for China’s hugely popular Singles Day event. Black Friday will still happen but the more obvious difference would be less queues or exciting shoppers. Rather as we have observed in the last few years, sales of course will rapidly shift online. When one considers the proximity to Cyber Monday a few days later, we will witness an unprecedented increase in sales. There is some speculation that some companies are planning multi day events to take advantage of the to Singles day event concept.
Customers are more accustomed to online shopping and the popularity of new delivery methods like curbside pick ups would play a big part. As the economic conditions deepen for ordinary people, big discounts will be more attractive to many. The retail industry anticipates big discounts for non essential goods like beauty products. The same goes for certain electronics as personal computers and other electronics have more become essential to work during lockdown.
China Singles Day
This proves there is still hope for holiday shopping. It is a matter of coordination, innovation and meeting the customers where they are native. In China, the singles day holiday uses eCommerce to profit in a way that could provide lessons for struggling retailers globally. Notably, nowhere else has social media been effectively incorporated into eCommerce or the overall retail experience. This might explain the difference in the fortunes of Black Friday and singles day. The US being a more mature retail market and China’s on an upward growth trajectory which might explain some of it.