Report: Consumers Already Experiencing Holiday Shopping Fatigue

While Black Friday and Cyber Monday are generally considered the most important retail days of the year, longer Black Friday campaigns may not have had the desired effect.

The holidays always provide a boost in online and retail sales, and in attempts to leverage more revenue, many businesses began their campaigns earlier this year than before. However, data from content marketing and activation agency Cofactor suggests that pushing customers to shop earlier may be weakening big sales days like Black Friday and Cyber Monday.

The data was collected between October through November from dozens of top 100 retailers like Target, Macy’s, Sears, Office Depot, and Toys R Us. All-in-all, 2,100 brands and 35,901 stores in the U.S contributed to the data.

Black Friday sales material has been launching earlier and earlier every year, with Best Buy launching as early as October 6. This trend has led to a six percent increase in visits to retail sites online during October compared to last year, and a three percent increase in time spent on leading retailer sites.

There was also a 39 percent increase in mobile traffic to these sites during October, and a six percent increase during November. Tablet visits were down across the whole survey period, from October right through Black Friday.

According to Cofactor, this increased activity led to a certain amount of consumer fatigue during the holiday weekend itself. Website traffic decreased 33 percent on Thanksgiving, and 34 percent on Black Friday. Additionally, time spent on sites by mobile users decreased five percent on Thanksgiving and traffic from tablets decreased by 48 percent on the same day, compared to last year. On Cyber Monday, there was a 17 percent increase in phone browsing, but a three percent decrease in overall time spent on the site.

While the increaseses in October may seem to indicate a boon, they have simply encouraged consumers to make their purchases earlier. In some cases, this data might be an indicating that some shoppers had decided not to bother with online shopping at all. And it may have been retailers that encouraged this behavior.

CoFactor CMO Jeff Fagel, who led the study, told SocialTimes:

Retailers have trained consumers to wait for a sale. To look the other way. To shop around. To ignore them. While the allure of Black Friday has lessened, customers love for deals has not. Retailers release their holiday campaigns earlier and earlier, but shoppers lost interest. In terms of response to these earlier efforts, October saw an early spike, but led to consumer fatigue by November.  

Marketers who want to succeed today must understand the individual motivations, behaviors and varying paths to purchase of consumers first. From there, it’s up to marketers to customize content and stage cross-channel promotions in response to consumer cues versus the former date-driven tactics. If they don’t, consumers will quickly move on to competitors who do.

Readers: Are you already feeling holiday marketing fatigue?

Image courtesy of Elliott Brown on Flickr.