The Retail Home Stretch: Thanksgiving to Cyber Monday

Ask anyone and they will give you a different answer as to what Thanksgiving, Black Friday and Cyber Monday means for retail. Answers range from the day in which lowest prices are to be had to the week in which retailers become profitable for the year. Neither of which is true. Before Black Friday came to be, the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day parade started in 1924 which was actually inspired by Canadian store Eaton’s way back in 1905. Retailers had a gentlemen’s agreement to hold their holiday sales until the Friday after the parade. The term Black Friday didn’t become famous until 1966 when the Philadelphia Police coined the term to describe the traffic jams and crowds in downtown stores.

Fast forward to today and the public largely views the Thursday to Monday as indication of the health of consumer spending and the economy. The Black Friday of 2018 has been labeled a calm, cool, collect and weak showing. So much so, some have labeled the death of Black Friday. We won’t know the truth until we see the full Q4 earnings from retailers but what we do know is…

Traffic per ShopperTrak was down approximately 1.0% to stores and specifically down 1.7% on Black Friday. This is versus the 1.6% they were down last year.

As for ecommerce, sales have been up >22% on Thanksgiving, Black Friday and Saturday thus far. In fact, the growth of 2018 exceeded that of 2016 to 2017 on each of the three days. Given the strength, I would expect Sunday and Cyber Monday to come in above expectations.

UPDATE: Sunday came in well ahead of expectations and grew 25% year over year.

Bottom Line: Black Friday isn’t dead, it has just shifted. The consumer is strong for now and this continues to illustrate the continued shift to ecommerce.