Black Friday’s Slow Death Drags On as Shoppers Migrate Online

Black Friday’s Slow Death Drags On as Shoppers Migrate Online

The decades-old retail tradition known as Black Friday suffered another blow this week after early deals and online shopping robbed the event of many brick-and-mortar customers, according to Bloomberg. E-commerce orders surged on Thanksgiving, the day before Black Friday, eliminating the need for shoppers to wait in long lines and fight for deals at physical shops. For consumers who did want to visit shopping centers, many stores were offering deals on Thursday evening.

Online sales surged 14 percent on Thanksgiving, according to Rakuten Marketing, and websites such as Target had their biggest day ever during the holiday. Smartphones and tablets have made it easier for consumers to shop from the couch, and many more of them are now doing just that. Mobile purchases made up 41 percent of e-commerce orders on Thanksgiving, up from 37 percent last year, Rakuten found.

Wal-Mart and other chains also are steering customers toward their web deals. While Wal-Mart still offers Black Friday specials at its supercenters, the day marks the beginning of a streak of online promotions called “Cyber Week.“ The world’s largest retailer has tripled its e-commerce selection to 23 million products this year, aiming to better compete with Amazon Wal-Mart said Friday that Thanksgiving was one of its top online-shopping days this year and that about 70 percent of the traffic to its website came from mobile devices.

Target, meanwhile, is offering 15 percent off almost everything in its stores and website for two days: Sunday and Monday. The aggressive discounts come at a cost. When Target slashed prices last holiday season, its profit margin slipped to 27.9 percent from 28.5 percent. The retailer said that Target saw double-digit growth on Thanksgiving, driven by deals on electronics like televisions and Apple products.

Amazon said on Friday that mobile orders on Thanksgiving topped last year’s holiday and Cyber Monday combined. Black Friday is on pace to beat last year in terms of items orders. Thanksgiving eve is becoming a bigger shopping day too. On Wednesday, three times as many people were browsing online at retail sites compared with a year ago, according to Rakuten, which tracks online behavior through the e-commerce platforms it provides. This comes after EBay made a plea for consumers to start shopping on their phones that day by christening the event “Mobile Wednesday.“