Is Black Friday still big for retail? Our analytics suggest it is.

Purple retail WiFi
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Stomachs have barely settled from Thanksgiving dinner before Black Friday madness kicks off on the fourth Friday of November each year. Consumers line up Thursday night and in the early hours to get their hands on discounted TVs, clothing, gadgets and Christmas gifts battling thousands of other consumers literally diving into the day.

Retail market reports full of mixed reviews

As of April, there had been nine retail bankruptcies – the total of 2016 reached in four months, making 2017 the year of retail meltdown. The prediction for Black Friday 2017, therefore, was significantly lower in-store traffic, consumers perusing in-store but waiting to purchase online and a high volume of online sales. In other words, forecasts are heavily skewed towards websites crashing rather than swarming crowds for 24 hours, and the best news to come out of the weekend was that Amazon’s CEO Jeff Bezo’s net worth skyrocketed to $100billion.

However, retail campaigns have been focussed on driving the in-store traffic online to promote their online platform. As a result of technology transforming the retail experience, consumers now know they have a plethora of options online and in-store throughout the year – rather than a flash sale where all their Christmas shopping and yearly big-ticket items are purchased within 24 hours.

The greying of retail?

Steven Barr, consumer markets leader at PwC, calls this the “greying” of Black Friday and Cyber Monday sales. Consumers are enticed by deals and discounts all year, and now the previous once-off sales to kick off the holiday season are lasting weeks.

“Even though there are prolific Black Friday shoppers, 75% of these young consumers [between 13 and 35] will continue their holiday shopping well into the ensuing weeks, versus 69% for shoppers over 35,” said Steven.

Purple reports the numbers

Several of Purple’s retail customers have seen incredible growth in Black Friday visitors and conversion rates, where consumers passing by walk into the store.

One Purple customer, a globally celebrated cosmetics company, identified half a million consumers shopping in their store locations, and a 90% increase of consumers in-store on Black Friday compared to the day before. The company also saw a 92% increase in consumer conversions on Black Friday, compared to a 42% conversion rate in 2016.

Another Purple customer, a smart-city council in the UK, want to encourage consumers to visit their high street year-on-year. From 2016 to 2017, the council recorded an increase of almost 40% in Black Friday visitors – almost pushing their total to six-figure visitors in one day.

It’s not about in-store versus online – they work hand in hand

It’s not about in-store versus online opportunities to make a sale for consumers. If anything, the numbers are true signs of change in shopping experiences as 84% of consumers will shop online, and an 88% majority will shop in-store this season.

Macy’s were doing better than initial reports this year despite flashing news headlines. According to a spokesperson, more than 16,000 people were lined up outside the central Herald Square store the day before, and by 7am on Black Friday Macy’s had already sold 200,000 coats with a predicted 1 million coats, sweaters and jackets to have sold over the weekend.

Brick-and-mortar shops maintain their place as most popular place to shop on Black Friday weekend, according to a survey from Gordon Haskett Research Advisors. Over 48.2% of consumers shopped more in-store, 37% spent more time online and 15% of consumers split their purchases evenly between the two.

Brian Field, Senior Director of Advisory Services, commented brick-and-mortar traffic has been decreasing by less than 1% year-on-year.

“There has been a significant amount of debate surrounding the shifting importance of brick-and-mortar retail, and the fact that shopper visits remained intact on Black Friday illustrates that physical retail is still highly relevant and, when done right, profitable,” said Brian.

Marketing efforts have been executed with a goal to drive in-store traffic back to the websites, covering stores with advertisements and offers of getting a future 10% off online, while paying a tenner for unlimited next-day delivery and returns.

Turning the tides to get shoppers back in-store could be as easy as sending an email and switching the voucher for exclusive in-store offers and merchandise. You just need the right tools to engage and action the insights.

Read next: 8 marketing trends to watch for 2018

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