New Holiday Shopping Patterns Signal the Beginning of The End of Black Friday

Black Friday became too much for anyone to handle.

holiday shopperThe numbers released so far for sales on this year’s Black Friday are way down. While the National Retail Federation says 87 million people still hit the stores, Black Friday just ain’t what it used to be.

In some ways, the shifts reflect the modern shopper’s use of the internet to buy gifts. In another way, the decline in shopping on this particular day is out of necessity. The PR and marketing campaign for Black Friday was too successful to be contained in one 24-hour period.

Ultimately, the most important thing for retailers is that they make their numbers for the season. But going forward, it’s becoming clear they won’t be able to count on Black Friday to put them in the black.

(Cyber Monday update after the jump.)

For the total four-day weekend, Fortune reports that sales are expected to total $50.9 billion, which is down 11.3 percent from last year.

“On a call with reporters, NRF CEO Matt Shay said his organization was still confident retail sales would rise 4.1% for the holiday season as a whole, despite the decline in Black Friday weekend sales, saying earlier deals meant a lot of business happened before the long weekend,” the mag says. “He also said that shoppers are still price conscious and could be holding out until later in the holiday season to see if they can snag more deals, meaning the pressure is still on retailers.”

To that end, the NRF also says that Cyber Monday will be smaller than last year, with 127 million people expected to shop online versus 131 million who planned to shop on this day last year.

“NRF CEO Matthew Shay attributes the shift in shopping patterns to the fact that some consumers may feel better about the economy and are less frantic about chasing deals, combined with shoppers recognizing they can get online deals all season long,” writes USA Today.

Shopping is also now spread across the full five days, so people aren’t rushing to purchase on any one day. For some retailers, the holiday shopping season began before Thanksgiving with discounts taken in the days leading up to the holiday. Then you have the coupling of online and in-store savings, which works in favor of couch potatoes.

Cyber Monday was, in many ways, created because not so long ago, many people didn’t have hi-speed internet at home and would wait until they were at the office on Monday to do their shopping. That’s no longer the case.

Then you have the recession, which took some of the pleasure out of spending a ton of money.

But just as important for this year was the need to defuse Black Friday in order to squelch the chaos and literal danger of shopping the sales on one day. For example, Walmart made a big push to alert people that they could get a good deal across multiple days, one of the measures it put in place to combat the whole #WalmartFights issue.

Black Friday was a marketing creation that became a Frankenstein monster. The walls and doors at malls nationwide couldn’t contain all the excitement that was generated. And now the retailers themselves – with help from technology (including mobile) – are moving in to change the way people do their holiday shopping in order to make money without the negative press from shoppers going haywire.

There will be people who still enjoy the thrill (?) of shopping in the wee hours, throwing elbows for a deal. But for most others, including the stores themselves, it became too hectic. Now the shopping season really will span across the holidays, which will require new strategies from everyone.

Update: According to Business Insider and IBM Digital Analytics Benchmark, Cyber Monday sales numbers are 8.7 percent higher than last year and mobile sales are up 29.3 percent from last year. Both of these are great outcomes, but you should remember that these numbers have been historically smaller than in-store sales numbers. The amount spent per transaction remains largely the same: $133.07.

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