Black Friday Kicks Off Holiday Shopping or Does It?

Market Research Insights

2010 online retail holiday sales are projected to reach $32.4 billion, an increase of 11% from 2009, as forecasted by comScore. Despite continued high employment, early seasonal shopping has been higher than last year in part attributable to increased sales and discounts. Three out four consumers surveyed by comScore thought that there was the same or higher level of promotional activity as last year.

Further, consumer frustration with shopping on Black Friday, the day after Thanksgiving, is fueling the online shopping trend.  Seven out of ten consumers find Black Friday shopping difficult to deal with and, as a result, 55% of Americans plan to shop online for their holiday purchases, according to’s research.

If Google searches are an indicator of what’s hot for holiday wish lists, here are the terms that have been rising in the last 30 days based on data from Performics tracking

  • Apparel. northface, uggs, north face denali
  • Home Furnishings. gas logs, fireplace inserts, pellet stove
  • Consumer Electronics. televiseur, pocket projector, vizio 55
  • Toys. lego advent calendar, kidkraft kitchen, lego table

Merchants, online and offline shouldn’t overlook the impact of mobile marketing on this year’s holiday shoppers. Roughly six out ten consumers plan to use their phone to order product or to find store locations based on the October 2010 US Mobile Consumer Briefing. Therefore, it’s important to have a mobile website with at least your store’s phone and physical address so consumers can easily find you when and how they want to.

For marketers, this research translates to being where your customers are looking for you, be it retail, online, social media platforms or mobile. To succeed you need to be ready for customers on their time frame when they’re ready to purchase.

While online holiday shopping is forecast to increase this year, multi-channel merchants should bear in mind that this may only be a channel shift as consumers increasinglyfeel more secure shopping online. Further, the use of earlier discounts and other forms of savings like free shipping and handling provide the same pricing for consumers with less hassle than in crowded stores. From a merchant’s perspective however,  these consumer benefits translate to lower margins and profitability.

What’s your perspective on the 2010 holiday shopping season? Please add your insights in the comments section below.

Happy marketing,
Heidi Cohen

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