It was another year of uncertainty for Black Friday and Cyber Monday, which together are considered the official start of the holiday shopping season. The emergence of another COVID-19 variant, ongoing supply chain problems, and inflation all called into question what kind of experience shoppers and retailers would have this year. Now that the numbers are in, here are some takeaways:
- Black Friday and Cyber Monday underperformed online. For the first time ever, Black Friday spending online dropped from the previous year, according to Adobe Analytics. Cyber Monday didn’t fare much better: Adobe said that online spending was essentially flat.
- People returned to stores on Black Friday. Sales rose 29.8 percent on Black Friday compared to 2020, and sales in stores rose 42.9 percent, according to Mastercard SpendingPulse, which tracks sales activity online and in stores within the Mastercard payments network (combined with estimates for all other forms of payment, including cash). But foot traffic to stores did not return to pre-pandemic levels.
- Amazon and Walmart were big winners. According to PYMNTS, nearly 71 percent of Black Friday shoppers made their online purchases at Amazon. Nearly 59 percent of consumers who shopped in-store visited Walmart. Overall, Walmart did quite well. Although Amazon got the lion’s share of online traffic, Walmart came in second place, capturing 41 percent of digital purchases.
- Consumers got an early start on holiday shopping. Sixty-one percent of shoppers surveyed by the NRF said they had started their holiday shopping before Thanksgiving, up from 59 percent in 2020 and 51 percent in 2011. And 31 percent of U.S. shoppers started their holiday shopping in June.
- Supply chain problems were evident. Digital out-of-stock messages are up 261 percent in November compared to November 2019, according to Adobe.
So, what should we take away from these numbers?
- Advertisers who get an early start on the holiday season are winning. Each year, it seems that holiday sales and promotions happen earlier and earlier. And it’s true: advertisers such as Target and Walmart have been rolling out holiday promotions well in advance of November. According to Brian Field, senior director of global retail consulting, Sensormatic Solutions, “Retailers kicked off holiday deals early this year to spread traffic peaks out throughout the season, helping to avoid crowded stores on Black Friday, better track and plan inventory, and create an improved holiday shopping experience.” The data shows that consumers will respond to those deals. This was especially true in 2021, when consumers were worried about supply chain problems hurting product availability.
- Advertising on retail networks is getting more important. Google remains the Number One go-to platform for online advertising – but advertisers cannot deny the growth of retail ad platforms such as Amazon Advertising and Walmart Connect. These platforms mine first-party shopping and search data on their platforms to offer businesses personalized ad units — even if you do not sell products on their sites. They are part of a growing industry of retailer-based advertising networks.
- With shoppers returning to stores, advertisers should apply digital tools that make your offline inventory more visible and appealing. Consider options such as local inventory ads from Google to promote items available for purchase in store. In addition, retailers can use the local product inventory feed for local inventory ads and free local product listings.
Contact True Interactive
To maximize the value of your holiday shopping ad campaigns, contact True Interactive. We help our clients create effective online advertising all year-round, including the holiday season, and we understand the nuances of creating effective holiday ad campaigns.
“Consumer Shopping Trends for the 2021 Holiday Season,” Clare O’Shea.
“Why Big Retailers Are Ramping up Holiday Shopping Promotions – and What Advertisers Should Do,” Kurt Anagnostopoulos.
“How Retailers Can Prepare for the 2021 Holiday Season,” Kurt Anagnostopoulos.