Despite all the Talk, Black Friday Still Offers the Best Deals

Despite all the Talk, Black Friday Still Offers the Best Deals

by Kristin Kranias on 12-3-15 in Holidays

As a follow-up to our Black Friday weekend in-store sales update, we are now taking a closer look at what was driving a lot of that activity: extensive holiday promotions.

There is always a lot of hype around Black Friday and Cyber Monday promotions and 2015 was no exception. Three key deal trends stood out this year in our analysis of holiday promotions to date:

  • Trend #1: Black Friday is now Black November. More retailers offered more promotions earlier.
  • Trend #2: The whole house is on sale! Storewide sales were deeper and more prevalent.
  • Trend #3: Black Friday still reigns with the deepest discounts but participation is shifting to Cyber Monday.

First, a brief note on our methodology:

We collect and analyze marketing data from a large sample of specialty and department stores. From this database of >100,000 deals, we classify promotions into two broad groups:

  • All Promotions: All sales and discounts offered by a retailer (all item types, channels, types of promotions, etc.)
  • Storewide Promotions: Offers where all items (or nearly all items) in the store or online are on sale – these are often most attractive to consumers and can be meaningful to a retailer’s bottom line

Now, more detail on our findings:

Trend #1: Black Friday is now Black November

More retailers offered more promotions earlier

In recent years, Black Friday has crept into Thanksgiving and Thanksgiving week, but, this year, the phenomenon began in the beginning of the month. While some retailers – such as,  Kohl’s, Target, Forever 21 and Justice – ran early November sales as pre-game Black Friday events, others – Amazon, Best Buy and H&M, for example – shamelessly proclaimed Black Friday started as early as November 2nd.

We are not the first to report on this trend, but among the first to give hard data confirming it. A higher percentage of retailers in our sample offered promotions earlier in November 2015 than they did in November 2014. During the first week of November (NRF week 40), 88% of retailers in our sample had sales, as opposed to 81% in 2014. This trend continued each week through Thanksgiving, week 43, as shown in the chart below.

Black Friday Blog Chart 1

Trend #2: The whole house is on sale!

Storewide sales were deeper and more prevalent

One way that we assess industry-wide levels of promotions on an apples-to-apples basis is by studying storewide promotions. While it can be hard to compare a 50% off denim sale one year to a BOGO outerwear sale the next, it is fair to look at the depth and frequency of promotions that cover the whole store.

This November, we saw average discount levels on Storewide Promotions increase 200 basis points from 29.2% to 31.2% YOY. This is a significant increase when you consider that it’s impacting a store’s entire inventory. Further, we saw a greater number of retailers offer a storewide sale over the course of the month: the percent of retailers in our sample who offered a storewide sale jumped from a weekly average of 39.7% in November 2014 to 40.1% in November 2015.

Black Friday Blog Chart 2

Trend #3: Black Friday still reigns with the deepest discounts

Yet, participation shifts to Cyber Monday

Despite all the Black Friday pundits out there this year, dedicated shoppers can rest assured that the highest average discounts still occur on Black Friday. The average discount across All Promotions peaked at an average of 41.1% across our sample on Black Friday 2015, relative to 40.0% last year. The Storewide discount peak of 35.1% represented an even greater jump from 33.2% last year.

These levels exceeded Cyber Monday, by 220 basis points across All Promotions and by 330 basis points for Storewide Promotions – this represents significant savings on Black Friday for the savvy shopper. However, if breadth and selection are your preference in deals, Cyber Monday was your better bet this year, as more retailers in our sample participated in both All Promotions (93% vs. 91% on Black Friday) and Storewide Promotions (48% vs. 43% on Black Friday). This shift departs from previous years when Black Friday had the highest participation levels.

Black Friday Blog Chart 3

If you’re reading this and feel you missed out on the best deal weekend of the year to date, don’t fret as more amazing deals are yet to come on Super Saturday if retail history follows its normal promotional course.

For additional insight into holiday shopping trends, check out new content on our blog, and follow us on Twitter @ShopperTrak.

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Read more posts by Kristin Kranias

Kristin Kranias is the Vice President of Global Professional Services at ShopperTrak where she leads the client engagement, field change management and advisory services teams serving our 1200+ retail customers. Kristin joined ShopperTrak along with purchase of her company, SaleTally, a marketing data company that aggregates and analyzes retail promotion data.

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