In the words of the author Fennel Hudson, “December, being the last month of the year, cannot help but make us think of what is to come.” Perhaps more than to any other group, this is extremely close to retailers’ reality. This is the busiest and most anticipated time of the year. As always, we gathered the top news stories of the previous month to guide you through the new one. Here is what the Cyber Week looked like and what you should be expecting to see during the rest of the Holiday season:
Different from 2012, when there was no decline in online shopping leading up to Election Day, sales were down 14.5% YoY in 2016’s post-election day. In fact, online shopping trends deteriorated even as Election Day approached. Online retail spending on November 8th declined 3.8% to $1.08 billion. These findings were brought upon by Adobe’s retail reports that were based on data from 17.6 billion visits to retail websites and measure 80% of all online transactions from Internet Retailer's top 100 U.S. retailers.
According to Internet Retailer, experts (including NRF’s Chief Economist Officer) have predicted that online shopping—and shopping in general—over November and December could be affected by the election. A more recent piece by Business of Fashion furthered the above theory through reporting a country divided by how the dice fell on the president elect. “The states in which a majority of the population voted for Trump saw the highest year-over-year gains in online apparel revenue in the month of November. Of the 26 states (including Washington, D.C.) that saw over 10 percent of growth in November in online apparel sales relative to the same period last year, 20 were won by Trump. What’s more, the opposite effect was seen amongst Hillary Clinton supporters. Of the 25 states that saw 10 percent or less growth, 15 were won by Clinton.”
Brands including Michael Kors Holdings Ltd., Coach Inc. and Levi Strauss & Co., aim at controlling their pricing, even at cost of shrinking sales and upending their relationships between brands and retailers such as Macy’s, Bloomingdale’s and Nordstrom Inc.
According to the Wall Street Journal, Diane Von Furstenberg, for example, is no longer sold at Bloomingdale’s and Kate Spade can no longer be found at Saks Fifth Avenue, as a result of disagreements regarding promotions and other issues. As customers continue to further their frugality, while at the same time decreasing their loyalty to specific designers, retailers might become less inclined to negotiate with brands.
Using DynamicAction’s recent findings as reference, the article explains there are few signs that discounts are going away soon. The number of U.S. receipts that included promotions on their orders increased 69% in the three months leading up to Nov. 15, compared with the same period YoY.
Forbes reports that U.S. consumers spent a record $1.2 billion via mobile during this Black Friday, which is a 33% increase from last year. Meanwhile, overall online spending increased 21.6% this year at $3.34 billion.
On a less exciting note, the U.S. remains behind other markets in online sales. In China, for example, the eCommerce site Alibaba generated $17.8 billion in total online sales.
US online sales hit a record $3.34bn on Black Friday, a 22 per cent up from last year, according to Financial Times. The news source states that number almost matches Adobe Digital’s $3.36bn estimate for Cyber Monday sales, which would translate as 9.4% growth over last year.
An explanation for more consumers shopping online is the competition at both online and brick-and-mortar pushing retailers to offer steep discounts. The article shares DynamicAction’s finding that special online offers rose 42% YoY on Black Friday, while markdowns increased 23%. Additionally, more 30% of those surveyed by NRF this year said that everything they had bought over the weekend had been discounted.
NBC News reports that 39% of consumers plan to use retailers' in-store pickup services this holiday season –a 32% increase YoY. Brick-and-mortar retailers are keeping an eye on shoppers who aim at saving on delivery fees and having their items more quickly, and are trying to benefit from expected 11% increase in online holiday revenue.
That said, the strategy requires “working out the kinks for their buy online, pick up in store services”, nearly half of shoppers who tried the service in 2016 encountered issues along the way. If done successfully, in-store pickup presents significant boost to sales: it generates more online sales and allows for in-store persuasion and fuller bags on shoppers’ way out of physical stores.
This concludes another of our monthly round-ups. Check back next month for a newly curated collection of headlines that will get you up-to-date with the retail industry’s latest buzz… Additionally, we invite you to stay tuned to our blog page and follow us on Twitter and LinkedIn for all of our musings.