Black Friday and Cyber Monday: Blurring the Lines
Years ago, Black Friday was considered the official start of the holiday shopping season to the degree that retailers would wait until that day to set up Christmas displays. But the arrival of the Internet and Cyber Monday have changed the dynamics of Black Friday and essentially made it a four-day event.
For a brief period when online pioneers like Amazon.com had e-commerce to itself, the Cyber Monday holiday was a stand-alone entity, but now the lines have blurred. While dozens of online retailers still consider Cyber Monday their domain, they're well aware that traditional retailers now count on Cyber Monday sales to drive as much traffic as Black Friday.
For traditional retailers, the holidays are interchangeable and function as bookends for a four-day sales event. Black Friday Web-site BlackFriday.fm notes that "it's a source of confusion for holiday shoppers who aren't sure if they should make their online purchases on Black Friday or hold off until Cyber Monday."
According to a report done on Black Friday sales from 2008, BlackFriday.fm contends that most in-store Black Friday promotions are offered online as well and suggests Black Friday is an even busier online shopping day than Cyber Monday:
"On Black Friday 2008, 90% of consumer electronics deals, which are the top Black Friday seller, were available online, along with 70% of the electronics doorbuster deals. And shoppers seemed to notice that there was no need to hold off on online purchases. On BlackFriday.fm and two of its sister sites, traffic increased 188.58% from the November average on Black Friday, while on Cyber Monday it only increased 50.92%."
Retailers and industry trackers are also using the Internet to promote Black Friday and Cyber Monday deals weeks ahead of time, giving shoppers the idea that they can just as easily sit at home and shop on Black Friday and get the same deals they could in stores.
One retail channel where Black Friday and Cyber Monday have essentially merged is apparel. Department stores and clothing stores that have suffered a double-digit decrease in same-store sales this year are seeing their business begin to rebound online but not in stores. Macy's reported a 15% increase in online sales in September despite posting a 2.4% decline in revenue, and the high-end retailer is expected to put more emphasis on shopping online for Black Friday. Macy's is offering free shipping on orders over $99 and is expected to lower that threshold on Black Friday and Cyber Monday to drive sales.
Nordstrom's is expected to follow suit and promote a new practice adopted last year that allows customers to order clothes online and pick them up in stores. Nordstrom's president Jamie Nordstrom said the strong response from customers indicates that "it's clearly how a lot of them want to shop."