The red-letter holiday shopping days, starting with Black Friday, continue to drive significant sales and top the list of top earning days for the year. But with the holiday season starting earlier and deals spread throughout the season, merchants who don’t make single-day goals should take heart — and have solid backup plans in place to extend promotional windows.
There’s no contesting the revenue impact of the red-letter days of the holiday season. In 2014, Cyber Monday was the top spending day of the year, bringing in more than $2 billion in sales, according to measurement firm comScore. Year-on-year sales growth for the top five sales events of the season was 19%, outpacing the 15% growth rate for the season as a whole.
Taken together, those five sales events comprised 13.3% of all holiday season sales. But that share of total sales grew at a slower pace than top-line growth, increasing just half a percentage point, or 4%. And for the second year in a row, only Black Friday, Cyber Monday, and Green Monday made comScore’s list of the top 10 sales days of the season — suggesting that shoppers are finding plenty of incentives outside of the peak promotional days to order gifts according to their own calendar needs.
With deals and spending spread throughout the season, and with the backlash against Thanksgiving Day shopping an ongoing undercurrent, a handful of merchants are promoting their decision to stay closed on Thanksgiving — and outdoor retailer REI has taken the gambit a step further with a major campaign promoting closure on Black Friday itself.
While most merchants won’t be making such a drastic move, the message is clear: making goal is no longer dependent on a handful of promotional events.
The action item
Merchants should capitalize on consumers’ tendency to shop outside of major promotional event days by expanding their sale offers responsively, in tune with the timing and preferences of their customers. Among the best practices:
- Extend Cyber Monday deals to Tuesday (at least). Cyber Monday, the end of the Black Friday weekend, is actually the start of the season’s heaviest spending. For the past two years, the Tuesday afterwards has ranked as the second-highest revenue generator of the year, and the Wednesday afterwards has made the list of the top 10 biggest sales days, according to comScore. Merchants should consider designating “Cyber Week” or otherwise capitalizing on this momentum.
In 2014, MarketLive merchant Current Catalog extended Cyber Monday for 24 hours. The “choose your discount” options offered shoppers maximum flexibility and upped the chances that the promotion would resonate and spur sales.
- Have a fallback plan for big promotional days. If revenues from high-profile events miss the mark, merchants should stand ready to extend deadlines or offer new options. Planning these secondary offers now means merchants can execute smoothly when the time comes, rather than rejiggering their calendars in the heat of the moment.
- Use preview events to reward valued customer segments. Merchants should consider giving loyalty club members, social followers, and other key constituents “sneak peak” access to deals for key promotional events, enabling word-of-mouth buzz while also rewarding shoppers with exclusive opportunities to nab top gift picks.
- Remind shoppers of everyday savings. In between promotional blitzes, merchants should highlight top picks from the “sale” category and deals at outlet store locations a way to remind shoppers that they needn’t wait for a special event to save. In 2014, MarketLive merchant Berkshire Blanket sent an email the Wednesday after Cyber Monday with the Subject: line “Did you miss it?” that highlighted the deals to be found in the Sale section of the Web site.
Watch for more holiday tips daily this week and check out MarketLive’s holiday resource center for the latest holiday research.