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Black Friday Sales To Grow 2.4%: Retailers

Chicago — The increase in pre-Black Friday promotions is taking a bite out of traditional post-Thanksgiving sales, a new retailer poll suggests.

According to a survey of 100 retail chief marketing officers (CMOs) conducted for consultancy BDO USA, sales on Black Friday are only expected to rise 2.4 percent overall this year.

The anticipated haul on Cyber Monday is only moderately better, with forecasts calling for a 3.9 percent hike.

What’s more, the vast majority of retail execs surveyed forecasted flat sales for both shopping days this year, BDO said.

One reason for the slim gains is the tough year-over-year comparisons to the Black Friday bonanza of 2013. Another likely culprit: a preemptive series of promotions by retailers like Walmart, Amazon and Office Depot that began after Halloween and picked up momentum last week, which is diluting the impact of Black Friday sales events.

Indeed, Black Friday “creep” has become a leap this year, BDO observed, as over one-third of retailers will have already offered the majority of their holiday promotions by the time Americans sit down to Thanksgiving dinner, the survey showed.

“By 2020, the official start to the holiday season may be in October,” said Ted Vaughan, a partner in BDO’s retail and consumer products practice. “Consumers now expect holiday promotions to come early and end late, and it’s becoming increasingly challenging for retailers to provide attractive deals while preserving margins.

As a result of the extended promotional period, the majority of retailers (64 percent) said they are offering more sales and discounts this year than last.

Among the survey’s other key findings:

*36 percent of the CMOs said their promotional strategy is equally focused on stores and online;

*34 percent said they expect social media promotions to be their most successful online promotional tactic, followed by free shipping offers; and

*67 percent said exclusive doorbusters will be their top tactic for driving traffic to their stores – where cart size may increase – and for drawing shoppers early, while their holiday budgets are still intact.