With more offline retailers offering up deals in-store and online on Thanksgiving and Black Friday, the demise of Cyber Monday may be a forgone conclusion.
Today retailer stock is up across the board, says NASDAQ senior retail analyst Calvin Silva. Though that’s not unusual for Black Fridays in general, there is something different about this shopping season compared with years past: The online infrastructure that offline retailers have been building to compete with Web-only retailers is finally paying off.
“The real theme is that traditional brick-and-mortar stores are becoming more offensive with their online strategies to combat some of the pure play e-commerce companies,” Silva told VentureBeat. In the last several years, online-only marketplaces like Amazon.com and Etsy have been eating into sales for physical stores like Walmart, Best Buy, Costco, and Radio Shack. As a result, these stores have been on the defensive, building an online infrastructure as e-commerce stores continued to deteriorate their customer bases.
But now traditionally offline retailers are countering e-commerce shops by pushing out holiday deals across all channels, on the Web and in-stores, on Thanksgiving — forcing e-retailers to run sales earlier than Cyber Monday.
“Online shopping started while turkeys were still in the oven, and yesterday was our second-highest online sales day ever – topped only by Cyber Monday last year,” Walmart said today in a released statement. In addition to online shopping, Walmart also reported that 25 million people downloaded its Black Friday ad and 20 million people planned their shopping excursions with digital local store maps.
Best Buy also showed strong online traffic today. In fact, traffic was so strong that the site shut down for several hours due to an influx of mobile users, a representative for Best Buy told Recode.
Not surprising, says Silva. “If I’m standing on line [at a store] and find a better deal on my phone, I’ll take it,” he says.
Since consumers have evolved to be more agnostic about where they shop, offline retailers have developed a competitive edge. Shoppers will shop anywhere, in-store or online, so long as they can get an item fast and for the best price. When Walmart runs a sale on Thanksgiving and Black Friday in-store and on its website, it’s giving consumers options for getting a product. If the product runs out online, shoppers can potentially get it in store. While Amazon has multiple sellers of the same product on its site, its same-day delivery options are limited and same-day pick-up is nonexistent — at least for now.
Online retail shops are starting to open brick-and-mortar stores to compete in multiple channels. In October, Amazon announced it will open its first brick-and-mortar store on 34th street in Manhattan. The shop is supposed to act as a mini warehouse for same-day delivery services, as well as a showroom for its Kindle products. Bonobos and Warby Parker, two traditionally online-only outlets, have already opened physical retail stores.
“It’s fierce out there. You have to compete for traffic and conversion, on pricing and availability. There’s multiple layers of competition. And you’re dealing with one of the most informed consumers that we’ve had in years, if not ever,” says Silva.
Silva expects this trend to continue, “There’s never going to be just online shopping. The stat that gets thrown around is that roughly two thirds of consumer traffic is still done offline,” he says. But even with huge growth online, in-store commerce is still hugely important.
Despite lots of online shopping traffic this week, Silva says sales are expected to remain strong through Cyber Monday — even as the line between the two “holidays” blurs.