Images of Black Friday crowds storming the gates to snag that ludicrously priced and cruelly understocked doorbuster special are quickly becoming a thing of the past.
Like phone booths and CDs, the retail tailgating queues that followed Thanksgiving dinner in anticipation of a 4:00 a.m. store opening have fallen victim to the digital era, as holiday shoppers continue their e-commerce migration.
As further proof comes a Black Friday survey from none other than BlackFriday.com, which has been leaking holiday ads and assessing doorbuster deals since 2006. In a September poll of 1,500 U.S. adults, the website found that more than two-thirds, or fully 68 percent, will do their Black Friday shopping online this year.
Only 15 percent of respondents said they plan to get up early to wait in line for a chance to snag a deeply discounted sale item on Nov. 23. And while another 17 percent also intend to hit the stores on Black Friday, that group expects to visit later in the day, once the crowds have thinned.
That’s not to say that all holiday shopping has become divorced from brick-and-mortar. Au contraire, a separate study by retail services firm Natural Insight shows that 88 percent of consumers still plan to shop in stores this holiday season, up 6 percentage points from last year. Top reasons include:
- the ability to browse and find new gift ideas (55 percent);
- the ability to see/touch products for quality (52 percent);
- enjoy the store decorations and holiday atmosphere (30 percent);
- it’s a social activity to be shared with family or friends (21 percent); and
- the need to get presents quickly (20 percent).
On the other hand, one quarter of the Natural Insight respondents said shopping is their “top stress” over the holidays, and of those, 65 percent cited crowds as one of the main causes of holiday shopping stress.
Which brings us back to Black Friday. Among BlackFriday.com’s other findings:
- apparel and tech will be the two most-shopped categories;
- Black Friday edges out Cyber Monday as the most popular day for holiday shopping (31 percent vs. 22 percent);
- Amazon and Walmart are expected to have the best deals, cited by 29 percent and 25 percent, respectively; and
- shoppers will spend an average of $472 on Black Friday, and $415 on Cyber Monday.
One final data point, regarding which of the sexes is the most spendthrift: According to the poll, men are 10 percent more likely than women to spend $1,200 or more on Black Friday (14 percent vs. 4 percent). Not asked was the number of big spenders who’d be spending the rest of the weekend in the dog house.