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Black Friday Gets More Digital

More than one-quarter of Black Friday shoppers under 35 plan on shopping primarily online

November 19, 2013 | Retail & Ecommerce

With Thanksgiving only a few short weeks away, holiday shoppers are no doubt gearing up for the deluge of deals that will land on Black Friday. But, as in past years, some shoppers are thinking even earlier—a September 2013 poll of US internet users conducted by Ipsos Public Affairs for found that a sizeable group of them were preparing to shop on Thanksgiving Day. In fact, nearly one-third planned to hit a retail store on the holiday itself.

A significantly larger percentage of respondents, 53%, indicated that they planned to shop on Black Friday. And there were clear signs that ecommerce was preferred among respondents to visiting physical stores—even when it wasn’t a question of skipping the turkey or pumpkin pie in favor of a good deal on a gift. Among all respondents, 18% planned to shop primarily online on Black Friday, while 20% said their shopping on that day would consist of a mix of online and brick-and-mortar stores. Only 15% of those polled planned to shop mostly at physical retail stores.

Primary Location Where US Internet Users Plan to Shop on Black Friday, Sep 2013 (% of respondents)

Unsurprisingly, younger shoppers planned to shop primarily online in higher numbers than their older counterparts on Black Friday. According to the survey, 26% of those under the age of 35 said ecommerce would account for the majority of their shopping that day, compared with 18% of those ages 35 to 54 and 12% of those ages 55 or older.

The shopping schedules for those traveling to physical stores on Black Friday were pretty well spread throughout the day. Interestingly, while 16% of those polled said they would head out at midnight, 21% indicated they would start their shopping journey between midnight and 5am. Another 23% said they would first go to stores between 5am and 8am.

Time of Day When US Internet Users Plan to Shop in Stores on Black Friday, Sep 2013 (% of respondents)

Of course, the responses from all of these self-proclaimed early birds can be taken with a grain of salt, as they reflect an intent to arrive that early, and not actual practice.

eMarketer estimates online buyers in the US will spend $61.8 billion this year in November and December, our definition of holiday season sales. That figure will be up 15.1% over spending levels in 2012 and represent 23.5% of all retail ecommerce sales for the year.



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