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Black Friday moving online in US, Amazon and Walmart will be big winners

More US shoppers are planning to stay home this Black Friday weekend but they won’t necessarily be enjoying that much more quality family time. Instead of queuing outside stores for Black Friday deals, they’ll be hitting the refresh button as they queue up online as Black Friday becomes ‘Cyber’ Friday.

In a nationwide survey of 1,000 US shoppers by Market Track, only 30% of respondents said they would shop in-store this Thanksgiving, a massive drop compared to the 50% that planned on doing so in 2016. Participation rates for Black Friday in physical stores look equally weak with only 40% of respondents expecting to venture in-store.

But while the outlook for in-store shopping this Black Friday weekend is less buoyant than usual, survey respondents cited Walmart as their top destination for in-store shopping this Holiday season.

“The decline in both store traffic and positive consumer sentiment towards Black Friday in-store events is well-documented. The reality is the battlefront has shifted to digital commerce, and that trend is only going to pick up steam,” said Ryne Misso, director of Marketing at Market Track.

“This Holiday season, look for Black Friday to morph into Cyber Friday, where the top deals and unique shopping experiences will take place, perhaps first and foremost, online.”

Of course, one side effect of this is that Amazon’s importance will only grow. Over 80% of shoppers plan to shop with the firm this year, up on the already huge 74% that planned to do so in 2016.

But whether they shop with Amazon, Walmart, or anyone else, most believe the best deals on the most popular Holiday gifting items (electronics, TVs, and sporting goods) can be found online versus in-store.

We all know that social media is a huge influencer but it’s interesting that it doesn’t seem to be having as big a shopping impact for the Holiday season as some might have expected. The survey showed only 5% planning to look for sales and deals on social media sites and only 21% planning to make purchases directly from platforms like Facebook, Instagram and Pinterest.

The Market Track researchers said they expect this Holiday season to see shoppers in a perennial ‘buy’ state due to their tech access. But they said that in order to grab their attention, retailers must make the purchase easy “whether a shopper transacts online, on their phone, in the store, on social media, or via other digital avenues, and they must present any and all methods of fulfilment to ensure that, no matter the shopper, the experience is seamless.”

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