Many consumers divided over Thanksgiving and Black Friday bargains
This year, many retailers are planning on opening their doors on Thanksgiving Day, and they have been improving their store operations, working to streamline their point of sale systems and otherwise striving to create a seamless experience for what will be the the biggest sales period of the year. The success of this decision will be tested soon enough and in light of the shortened window for the holiday sales season this year, it is an understandable choice. However, market research company Lab42 found that seven out of 10 customers think that stores should be closed on that date, when only 60 percent held similar beliefs in 2012. Despite their protests, though, 22 percent of these respondents still plan on shopping on Thanksgiving.
Meanwhile, Black Friday's move toward a Thursday schedule is not convincing all consumers to shop early. Many customers will save their trips to the store until December, as they believe similar bargains will still be available after the initial sales rush.
The expanding role of ecommerce
Even as some shoppers turn away from Black Friday bargains, many are looking to ecommerce to fulfill their gift-buying needs this year. Lab42 found that half of holiday shoppers plan to spend more online this year in comparison to 2012, and the firm suggested that this may be motivated by skepticism about deals on Black Friday. While 30 percent of customers in 2012 felt like they could get similar deals to Black Friday online, 38 percent believe so now. Economic improvement and increases in disposable income are also encouraging greater amounts of spending this year.
Many still interested in Black Friday bargains
But while many consumers think retail stores should be closed on Thanksgiving, more than half of the survey's respondents who plan on shopping on Black Friday will do so before 3 a.m., and 26 percent may take advantage of the additional Thanksgiving hours. Promotions are a strong driver for drawing customers into stores, and while email used to be the best way for shoppers to discover the latest promotions, more people will be turning to social media this year to inform their purchasing habits.
Although consumers may be divided about shopping on Black Friday, overall spending will be up, and merchants should be ready to manage an increased volume of customers in both their brick-and-mortar locations and on their websites. With consumer confidence and spending up, retailers could see considerable success by meeting the shoppers' needs.
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