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12 08 2015

Business Must Prepare for Holiday Online Shoppers

12 08 2015

Sifting Through The Holiday Shopping Trends

With the holiday-shopping trifecta of Black Friday, Small Business Saturday and Cyber Monday now in the books, business owners across the country should be carefully studying the sales data and customer habits to determine emerging trends, as well as whether they should seek out alternative financing options to respond to any market shifts.

Looking at the data

Customers bought in large numbers this year, with more than 151 million people saying they either shopped in stores or online, according to the National Retail Federation’s Thanksgiving Weekend Survey. This easily surpasses the 136 million who said they planned on shopping during this time period when asked during a mid-November survey by the NRF. In total, the average person spent an estimated $299.60, with 76.6 percent of this total going specifically for gifts to give to other people.

Unlike in previous years, though, there was a clear indication on where customers are choosing to shop. According to Practical Ecommerce, after accounting for roughly $2 billion in sales last year, sales in brick-and-mortar stores on Black Friday declined to $1.8 billion in 2015. While spending in physical stores dropped, online sales increased by double digits for Thanksgiving Day and Black Friday.

Sales on Cyber Monday came in at roughly $3.07 billion, according to CNBC. This represents a 16 percent increase from last year’s total, and it beat economists’ forecast of a 12 percent rise. In addition, sales for the five days from Thanksgiving to Cyber Monday came in at $11.11 billion, a year-over-year increase of 17 percent and 2.4 percent higher than anticipated.

An undeniable shift has occurred, where it seems as if shoppers have finally upset the previous balance. Now, instead of brick-and-mortar stores being the de facto go-to choice for holiday shopping, it’s clear that more people are opting to stay at home in their pajamas and seek out the best deals online.

“We recognize the Thanksgiving weekend shopping experience is much different than it used to be as just as many people want that unique, exclusive online deal as they do that in-store promotion,” explained Matthew Shay, NRF president and CEO. “It is clear that the age-old holiday tradition of heading out to stores with family and friends is now equally matched in the new tradition of looking online for holiday savings opportunities.”

Online shopping

While it might not surprise everyone, perhaps the most glaring trend this year is that customers are increasingly spending more money online than in any years in the past. As more shoppers shift to web-based transactions, small business owners need to ensure they not only have a website that customers can use to purchase goods, but they should also make sure the site is easy to use, intuitive and streamlined.

In addition, mobile sales were up significantly. Not only were sales up for people who shopped on smartphones, but more customers are also using their mobile devices to research products, promotions and availability. In total, 56.7 percent of shoppers used their smartphone or tablet devices specifically for this purpose, the NRF survey found.

With seven out of the top 10 sales day still remaining in the year, small businesses still have a considerable amount of time to track these trends, improve their web presence and ultimately boost year-end sales. With shoppers undeniably turning to online websites and using mobile devices to locate sales and other deals, small business owners need to ensure they’re connecting with these individuals on the channels they’re actually using. For some companies, this might mean investing the appropriate working capital necessary to establish a significant web presence.

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