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Edelman Berland Insights: November Edition

The countdown is on…only 2 more days until the official kickoff of the holiday shopping season: Black Friday.  Traditionally, the day after Thanksgiving has been referred to as the busiest shopping day of the year, but with the convenience of online shopping more and more shoppers are hitting snooze.  Many retailers now offer the same great doorbuster deals online as they do in stores, and shopping in pajamas sounds great, so why not?

For the past few holiday seasons the debate among shoppers has been when and where to find the best deals—in-store on Black Friday or online during Cyber Monday.  This year, we asked members of our PluggedIN Nation community to weigh for an ultimate “battle of the bargains” —and you’ve got a ringside seat! Take a look at our infographic to see how the holiday heavyweights stack up.

Black Friday Not for the Faint of Heart

For many, Black Friday has become synonymous with crowded shopping, parking shortages, long lines, and impolite behavior.  While online shopping gives consumers the option to avoid the crowds and check their lists off from home, 1 in 4 of our community members still plans to hit the mall this Black Friday.  They may not appreciate the crowded aisles or the long lines, but for many, the in-store deals are too good to resist.  Still, others say you have to embrace the crowds to truly enjoy the experience, and for some it is a ritual they brave every year.

Cyber Monday Has its Perks

Cyber Monday has much more appeal among our community members than the more traditional Black Friday, with nearly 40% saying they will shop online during Cyber Monday this year.  These consumers suggest that they would rather stay in bed—even “drink hot chocolate” —than wait in line at the stores.  The online shopping experience is much calmer, and many say that they can find a wider range of items at Amazon compared to big-box stores, so it is easier to shop for multiple people.  Overall, 84% of our shoppers plan to shop online for holiday gifts this year, while only 45% say they will battle the crowds at the mall.  Despite the appeal of shopping from home, some are skeptical that Cyber Monday deals are as significant as Black Friday.

Black Thursday Bandwagon

Many retailers are kicking off the holiday shopping season earlier than ever this year, with some stores opening their doors at 8 p.m. on Thursday.  The earlier start to Black Friday does not seem to have a widely detrimental effect on brands, but a little over 30% say it makes them feel worse about the brands when they open on Thursday.  Overall, 46% of our shoppers say it’s a bad thing, 12% think it’s a good thing, and 41% don’t care.  While only 29% say they will shop on Black Friday, even less (12%) plan to shop on Black Thursday.

Tale of the Tape

From the numbers, community members plan to shop less on Black Friday (down 4%) and Cyber Monday (down 7%) this year compared to 2011. In general, those who shop on the day after Thanksgiving say they spend more.  Interestingly, those who do not plan to shop on Black Friday or Cyber Monday plan to spend less overall this holiday season.  This suggests that Black Friday and Cyber Monday shoppers as a whole may spend more than non shoppers.  Black Friday shoppers rely more heavily on the newspaper and traditional ads, while Cyber Monday shoppers rely on social media and email.

The Winner: The Double-Team

The results are in. This year, the lowest prices won’t necessarily appear on Black Friday, and they also won’t necessarily be in-store only—they could just as easily be available online.  Black Friday may not be the primary day for deals anymore, but don’t remove it from your calendar just yet.  With more people than ever expected to do at least some of their shopping online, retailers are responding by making more of their Black Friday sales available online on Thursday and Friday.  As an added bonus, many retailers will give shoppers the option to pick-up in stores, so you can dodge the lines and still get in on the action.  Whether you call it Black Friday, Cyber Monday, or even Black Thursday, for consumers, it’s all about the price.  With a little research, consumers can find deals on the products they want, and they may not have to fight the crowds on Black Friday—or wait until Monday—to get them.

Edelman Berland Holiday Forecast

A return of consumer confidence and willingness to spend has the potential to make the 2012 holiday season the strongest we’ve seen in years.  Although we saw a drop in the number of consumers who plan to shop on Black Friday or Cyber Monday, we expect to see holiday sales rise this season—particularly online. While they may not hit the mall on Friday or surf for deals on Monday, 72% of shoppers in our community plan on spending the same or more this holiday season. The National Retail Federation estimates that total holiday sales this season will rise 4.1%, above the 3.5% average for the previous 10 years. Last year, the NRF initially projected a 2.8% rise in holiday sales, but the actual figure was 5.6%, so this estimate may be conservative.

The feedback collected in this post reflects the attitudes of members in our PluggedIN Nation community. In addition to qualitative discussions, Edelman Berland conducted an online survey among members (n=260), November 6-13, 2012. Our PluggedIN Communities provide a way for people to express their opinions and ideas directly with brands and researchers. They have revolutionized the way research is conducted, making it more social, interactive and enduring.