Has COVID-19 Killed Black Friday?

Has COVID-19 Killed Black Friday?

The 2019 holiday shopping season became the first-ever trillion-dollar retail season in US history. All three key shopping days (Thanksgiving, Black Friday, and Cyber Monday) gained over 14% in incremental sales compared to prior years and were on track to again exceed sales in 2020… until COVID-19 happened. Now, all the original 2020 holiday predictions have been thrown out the window as consumer behaviors, especially shopping behaviors, change to accommodate our new lifestyles.

In the past months since the pandemic hit our country, eCommerce sales have been on the rise (in position to grow 18%) while more and more brick-and-mortar locations close (a possible 14% drop in sales as a result). This got our team thinking about the upcoming holiday season and how the key shopping days that most consumers rely on for purchases will be impacted.

Amazon Prime Day

What was introduced in 2015 to mark Amazon’s 20th anniversary has now become one of the key shopping events of the year. The 48-hour experience continues to push large sales for the retail giant year over year. As a result, in 2019 Amazon sold more on Prime Day than it did on Black Friday and Cyber Monday combined.

Now, Amazon has pushed back the date of its Prime event three different times due to the pandemic. Recently leaked emails reveal that the company is now looking at October 5th instead of July, setting the company up for a solid Q4 with key buying dates in October, November, and December.

Amazon's Dominance of US eCommerce Will Grow

Thanksgiving and Black Friday

Whether you’re one of the millions of people lined up inside the malls to get the best deals, or you’re hiding at home to avoid the mayhem, we’re all familiar with the extreme sales that come with Black Friday. But this year is going to be very different.

2019 showed a 5% decline in foot-traffic during the holiday season, a trend that will surely carry over to 2020 as consumers continue to stay home and avoid in-store shopping. Add to that the 5,300 US stores that have closed just this year, proving that the retail apocalypse that began in 2010 is far from over.

And in more recent news, retail giant Walmart announced that their stores will be closed on Thanksgiving this year. This announcement has captured the attention of many since they’re historically known for starting their Black Friday deals on Thanksgiving Day. While the consensus on what Black Friday itself will look like is still up in the air, other marketers are taking notice of this action as they evaluate their in-store plans for the holiday.

It may seem that in order to set your brand up for success on these key buying days, you may need to emphasize click-to-collect and/or eCommerce driven promotions… if this holiday even survives 2020.

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Cyber Monday

Last year, Cyber Monday was the biggest eCommerce day to date. It’s no question that this year will likely beat out last year’s numbers as well. And as a result of the coronavirus, 47% of US adults are more interested in shopping online this holiday season. That said, retailers should be mindful that Cyber Monday deals may need to be more enticing than ever this year to beat out the competition.

eMarketer: Level of Interest US Adults Have Towards Methods Used for Holiday Shopping

How Your Social Media Marketing Can Adapt

As is also evident in the chart above, 22% of adults are more interested in purchasing their holiday items via social media this year. And now, there are more social media buying options available as Facebook and Instagram roll out their new shopping features. Your brand could even be considering running TikTok ads with influencers as the platform rolls out its self-serve ads platform publicly (so long as the US doesn’t ban the platform before the holiday season).

As your brand reconsiders your social media marketing strategy for the holidays, we invite you watch this on-demand webinar, 5 Social Media Tactics to Enhance Your 2020 Holiday Marketing Strategy, which dives into tips on how to optimize your paid media budget in Q4, types of content to focus on, how to craft messaging that resonates with your audience, and MORE.

Watch the On-Demand Webinar Now: 5 Social Media Tactics to Enhance Your 2020 Holiday Marketing Strategy

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