Black Friday by the numbers
Shoppers who avoided the shoulder-rubbing madness of Black Friday are expected to buy, buy, buy in record numbers on Cyber Monday, when the deals are just a few clicks away as the holiday shopocalypse continues.
About 95 million American consumers are projected to spend $7.25 billion during the booming online bonanza, which is more than double what they spent just two years ago, according to figures from BestBlackFriday.com, the National Retail Federation and Adobe Analytics.
“Despite Thanksgiving Day and weekend sales growing in popularity and deals starting earlier than ever in November, Cyber Monday remains the targeted day for many bargain-hungry shoppers,” said Phil Dengler of BestBlackFriday.com. “Combining Thanksgiving Day, Black Friday, Saturday, Sunday, and Cyber Monday, we are expecting upwards of 180 million Americans to shop in-store and online, which is 72 percent of those over the age of 18.”
Yes, it’s true. Two-thirds of the U.S. adult population feels compelled to purchase something – anything – even if they don’t need it because the item is advertised as an irresistible discounted prize during this artificial event. But is it, really?
Black Friday and Cyber Monday, as well as Small Business Saturday, have morphed into extended days-long, even weeks-long sales as businesses try to milk the holidays for all they’re worth. Many Cyber Monday deals are simply repeats from Black Friday or Black Thursday or Independence Day or Jeff Bezos’ Birthday or Gwyneth Paltrow’s goop Holiday Detox Cleanse, which has been recycled into a Pre-Holiday Detox Cleanse because “if you’re anything like us, you hit the holidays hard – holidays that seem to start earlier and earlier, putting them closer to our summers of overindulgence,” Paltrow writes on her goop website, where you can buy a Carrara marble dumbbell for $100 or a one-month supply of “Why Am I So Effing Tired?” vitamins “sourced from ancient Ayurveda” for $90.
Holiday sale shopping, especially when the end of another year is nigh, not only feeds compulsions to be savvy and frugal but to keep up with the Joneses. A backlash against the manipulated urge to splurge has spawned shopping boycotts and Buy Nothing Day.
“Cyber Monday marketing is: ‘You have to get this best deal today or you will be a loser,’” said Michael Molthan, an expert on addiction who talks about recovery on his website and radio show, M2 the Rock. “Holidays worsen feelings of fear and guilt – fear of missing out and guilt after buying the latest iPad when you know you can take notes on a piece of paper for a lot less money. You forget how to be content with yourself here and now.”
Take advantage of Cyber Monday if you must, but if you’re too busy actually working, doorbusters will linger.
“Some of the best deals will only be available on Cyber Monday, but many of the offers will last through the week. Cyber Week is still a thing,” Dengler said. “Many stores are now having Cyber Monday sales at brick-and-mortar locations, which kind of defeats the purpose of the day. Regardless, it is yet another opportunity to attack in-store sales as well as online sales, and that can many times lead to the deepest discounts. Last year, Kohl’s and JCPenney are examples of two stores that had in-store Cyber Monday deals, and we expect more retailers to take part this year.”
During the Five Days of Shopping Frenzy, Americans will spend $21.6 billion online and Amazon.com will account for 29 percent of U.S. sales, projects Digital Commerce 360.
But shoppers are still flocking to brick-and-mortar stores. Shopper visits were down just 1 percent on Thanksgiving Day and Black Friday compared to 2017, according to ShopperTrak. Retail king Walmart reported that foot traffic was steady throughout Thanksgiving night.
“The season forecast looks very positive, and there is a perception that the economy is strong,” said Ed Boas, owner of Lanes menswear, an institution in South Miami since 1956. “Even with the popularity of online sales, we’re seeing people coming back to brick-and-mortar stores. Clothing is a touchy-feely business, and customers find the in-store experience more exciting and the personal service engaging.”
For those who prefer the keyboard experience, Dengler has some Cyber Monday advice. Keep an eye on Target.com, expected to again offer an extra 15 percent off and a chance to “stack the savings,” he said.
“The Apple Store is probably still going to be a bad option on Cyber Monday,” Dengler said. “We always recommend avoiding it on Black Friday, and it is no better during Cyber Week. It may offer free gift cards on some old items, but you will be able to find Apple deals at many other stores, including eBay, Best Buy, and B&H Photo Video.
“Amazon will likely have the same prices on its device deals, including the Kindle, Echo, and Fire, on Black Friday and Cyber Monday.”
He urges shoppers to never pay shipping costs as most retailers vying for your money offer free shipping or very low miniumums for free shipping.
“Unless your order will ship for free, we highly recommend you shop elsewhere,” he said. “Plenty of stores will be having great online sales, and shipping costs can easily kill an otherwise great deal.”
Dengler also cautions shoppers not to believe “myths” about electronics mega deals on Cyber Monday because many of the “really cheap” prices on TVs, laptops and video game consoles were offered on Black Friday.
“Cyber Monday is not the worst time to buy toys, but you should still wait until the middle of December for the best prices,” he said.
“Don’t click on links in unsolicited emails (especially those in URL shorteners), even those that appear to come from senders you know,” said the network security firm. “Do remember your financial institutions will not send emails asking for information they already have, such as your Social Security number. Don’t automatically open any attachments in unsolicited emails. Do pay close attention to spelling and grammar in the subject and email body. Poor quality phishing emails often contain multiple, obvious errors.”