Friday, November 23, 2012

Cyber Monday: Easy Does It Day

In 2005 Shop.org identified a consumer phenomenon.  It had become apparent that on-line shopping had become popular the first day back at work after the long Thanksgiving Day week-end.  In a stupor after consuming mounds of turkey, stuffing, potatoes and gravy, workers were turning to their computers for some easy web surfing that could pass as real work  -  at least from the distant view of bosses.  Shop.org called it Cyber Monday and they have been tracking on-line sales with as much enthusiasm investors have tracked sales on the day after Thanksgiving Day.  Black Friday, of course, has been part of the consumer experience for many years before the Internet made the transition from communications network to sales channel.

Cyber Monday sales topped a billion dollars for the first time in 2010, and rose to $1.3 billion in 2011.  Of course this is still a small number in comparison to Black Friday sales of $52.5 billion in 2011.  What might be more illuminating than total sales records are the number of participants.  Consumers tell as much with their feet as their pocket books.

The green and red lines of the chart below demonstrate that shoppers have maintained a steady pace on the traditional Black Friday.  In 2009, the darkest and most uncertain days of the recession and after the free fall of the stock market in 2008, shoppers held back a bit on spending to an average $343.31 per shopper.  However, the spirit was back by last year, when the average-spend per shopper rose to $398.62.
 
 

 
What is really impressive is the shift to on-line shopping.  The second chart below demonstrates the dramatic ramp upward on Cyber Monday sales.  The woes of the stock market may have even helped accelerate the move to on-line shopping as budget conscious shoppers look for bargains not found in stores.


 

In the next few days we will be offered data on both Black Friday and Cyber Monday shopping tallies.  Like clockwork there will be prognostications for retail stocks.   Some may even suggest the data indicates a brick and mortar presence is of no value anymore. 

I think otherwise.  Black Friday is as much social event as shopping day where families make the traditional foray out to sit screaming children on Santa’s knee and otherwise try-on, make lists and check things twice.  Granted with expectant shoppers cueing up at Midnight Thursday, the day is not as gracious as it used to be.  However, the total spend on Black Friday does not appear to have been cannibalized by Cyber Monday.  Black Friday sales have increased sequentially in each of the last four years even as on-line shopping has expanded.

So Monday morning, easy does it.  Traditional winter holiday shopping is still safe.


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