4 Emerging Retail Trends From the 2021 Black Friday Sale

4 Emerging Retail Trends From the 2021 Black Friday Sale

"Whoever said money can't buy happiness didn't know where to shop." In agreement with Gertrude Stein, knowing when to shop is equally important. For avid shoppers, the Friday after American Thanksgiving is an exciting time to splurge money wisely.

Traditionally marking the beginning of a bustling holiday shopping season, Black Friday is a spectacular affair for retail businesses around the globe, featuring attractive and extensive discounts. According to the data released by National Retail Federation, 2021 witnessed a total of 179.8 million unique Thanksgiving weekend shoppers compared to 174.6 million in 2017, 165.8 million in 2018, 189.6 million in 2019, and 186.4 million in 2020.

Tracing the Origin

The phrase "in the black" commonly refers to financial profit but its usage dates back to the market collapse and economic stress of 1869. It is also associated with the stock market crash on October 29, 1929, commonly referred as Black Tuesday, which marked the onset of the Great Depression. As a result, the true origin of the word "black" in Black Friday relates to misfortune or disaster.

The current understanding of Black Friday came about only in the second half of the 20th century, particularly in the 1980s. It can be traced to the U.S. factory workers in the 1950s extending their Thanksgiving holiday weekend by falsely calling in sick and the Philadelphia traffic police popularising it to describe their extended work hours after Thanksgiving in the 1960s.

In e-commerce, Black Friday is closely related to Cyber Monday which refers to the second-biggest shopping day in the Thanksgiving weekend.

Analysing Black Friday 2021

With the rise of omnichannel retail, the holiday shopping seasons from 2020 saw a surge in online shopping compared to in-store and curbside pickup. The offers were also earlier than ever in 2021 with retail sales spread throughout the month of November, enabling 49% of shoppers to complete their holiday shopping before Thanksgiving. This was largely a result of increased awareness of product availability and supply chain challenges among consumers.

According to Adobe Digital Insights, consumers spent a total of $109.8 billion online from 1st to 29th November, which shows a significant growth of 11.9% compared to 2020. It also reports that consumers spent a total of $33.9 billion online during Cyber Week 2021, from Thanksgiving Day till Cyber Monday.

Tracking the Trends of Black Friday 2021

Although Black Friday 2021 was passive and witnessed sluggish consumer traffic with few to little doorbuster promotions at major retail stores, vaccinations increased the rate of in-store shopping compared to 2020. A few retailers also offered exclusive in-store deals to draw customers. A major stress factor during Black Friday 2021 was the disruption to supply chain and Adobe indicates that out-of-stock messages were more prevalent and higher by 258%, than 2019.

  • Opting for the Buy Now, Pay Later option

    In addition to new-age campaigns such as buy one get one and buy more get more, the adoption of the buy now, pay later option has seen a tremendous increase in 2021 among small and big businesses. It enables the customers with limited finances to shop conveniently during difficult times.

  • Embracing curbside pickup

    According to Salesforce data, U.S. stores that offered curbside or in-store pickup increased their Year-over-Year Black Friday revenue by 50%, when compared to retailers without these pickup options. Curbside pickup presents customers with the advantage of shopping online and getting the product in less time.

  • Extending the shopping season

    The trend of relying less on Black Friday but focusing on the holiday shopping season as a whole gained popularity in 2021. Although a longer shopping period could lead to shopper burnout, a month-long event could significantly boost sales.

  • Buying local

    An increased consumer preference for local and sustainable products over opting for big brand products was observed in 2021. It supports small businesses and reduces shipping delays.

Envisioning the Future of Black Friday

With the world slowly transitioning toward normalcy and the growing reliance on digital tools, including augmented and virtual realities for retail shopping, it is necessary for businesses to further invest in increasing their digital presence. It could empower consumers to make informed buying decisions and could be an effective way to reach younger customers. Additionally, the rising trend of early shopping could shift the nature of retail spending over the course of the year. It could also potentially lead to redefining the holiday period in the future.

With 20+ years of expertise in the retail domain, Intellect Commerce can help you tap into your potential, all year around, for you to achieve your retail goals and complete retail growth. Reach out to us to know more!

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