Black Friday, Cyber ​​Monday divisions blur as shopping habits change

Tara Deschamps, The Canadian Press

Posted Saturday, November 26, 2022 2:04 pm EST

When Shopify Inc.’s Harley Finkelstein surveys the retail landscape for November, she finds it hard to see where Black Friday ends and Cyber ​​Monday begins.

Annual pre-holiday sales blitzes aimed at encouraging customers to drop cash on discounted items have coalesced in recent years, with stores extending Black Friday promotions beyond a single day and online retailers they offer Cyber ​​​​Monday deals all week, or all month.

“Black Friday/Cyber ​​Monday used to be a weekend, now it’s more of a season,” said the president of the Ottawa-based e-commerce giant.

Many in the retail industry feel the divisions will be even more confusing this Cyber ​​Monday as the COVID-19 health crisis continues to reshape shopping habits.

During the pandemic, when stores temporarily closed and people went home, there was a surge in online shopping.

As measures aimed at quelling the virus eased, many continued to shop online, but not at the pace some brands anticipated.

“The popularity of online shopping grew, obviously, through the pandemic, but it’s actually gone down now because people are going back to the store,” said Lisa Hutcheson, managing partner at JC Williams Group, a consulting firm. .

“E-commerce spending is actually down 11.5 percent year to date.”

The consumer return to physical stores surprised Shopify, which had bet online shopping would continue to accelerate at pandemic rates.

“It is now clear that the gamble did not pay off,” CEO Tobi Lutke said in a July statement announcing the company would lay off 10 percent of staff as a result of the misjudgment.

Shares of the company have traded as high as $212 in the past year, but have averaged close to $50 in recent days.

So the stakes are high on Black Friday/Cyber ​​Monday weekend.

“Black Friday/Cyber ​​Monday is kind of like the Super Bowl,” Finkelstein said. “The culture and energy at the company is really high right now.”

black Friday

A survey his company conducted of 24,000 consumers and 9,000 small and medium-sized businesses worldwide found that 59 percent of Canadians planned to spend the same amount or more on Black Friday and Cyber ​​weekend than last year. ​Monday. That figure rose to 74 percent for those between the ages of 25 and 34.

Finkelstein finds it difficult to predict what the weekend will look like, though he suspects it will be very different from last year, when the country was consumed by product shortages and the Omicron wave of COVID-19.

“This Black Friday/Cyber ​​Monday seems a lot less hectic than last year,” he said. “There are fewer problems in the supply chain, there are more brick-and-mortar stores open, there is more inventory. There is better capacity planning at transportation companies.”

However, there is a new problem: inflation remains stubbornly high.

Michelle Wasylyshen of the Retail Council of Canada says “consumers have tightened their belts a bit” in recent months, but they still plan to spend the same as they did last holiday season, about $790.

“The difference this year is that they will be looking for more meaningful or practical gifts,” he wrote in an email. “They may also decrease the number of people they shop for or will give fewer gifts per person, but plan to shop.”

Finkelstein also envisions a more measured approach.

“They may not buy five things that they have mediocre love for. They may buy two things that they deeply desire,” Finkelstein said.

“And you can also keep an eye on how you shop… Is there a discount coming up? I’ll wait until Thursday night or Cyber ​​Monday.”

The term Cyber ​​Monday was coined in 2005 by the National Retail Federation, which noted that the Monday after Black Friday had generated a large increase in online sales and traffic in the previous two years.

“We won’t see the same spike that we have in the past,” Hutcheson predicted.

Part of that forecast comes from the extended shopping window, but also because some people will maintain their pandemic online shopping habits.

Moneris predicts that Cyber ​​Monday will be the busiest day for online shopping, following a trend established in 2019 and 2020. However, Black Friday is expected to be the busiest day in terms of total transaction count and dollars spent. in all media.

Hutcheson said the week will unfold as an “omnichannel vision.”

Omnichannel is an industry term that refers to making shopping seamless across online and mobile platforms, as well as in physical stores.

Finkelstein likes the term because the retail industry is “no longer online versus offline.”

“Saying omnichannel is a strategy will soon be like saying color television,” he said. “It’s the norm, so consumers shop everywhere and everywhere.”

This report by The Canadian Press was first published on November 25, 2022.

Companies in this story: (TSX:SHOP)

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