Where Did Consumers Shop Online During Thanksgiving and Black Friday?

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Retailers and manufacturers are beginning to get an understanding of the impacts that months of holiday planning had on consumers.

This year, brands have continued their aggressive pursuit of holiday shoppers by turning up marketing well ahead of previous years.  Target launched a high-visibility holiday themed ad campaign before Halloween in an effort to capture as much attention as possible.

During Black Friday week, retailers stirred up particular controversy by electing to open stores on Thanksgiving to kick off the holiday shopping season.  Dozens of press releases have been issued this weekend that have shown the winners and losers from a sales standpoint.

Compete decided to look at the actual shopping time (minutes) consumers spent shopping online Thanksgiving and Black Friday.  Our daily attention metric quantifies the time (minutes) that a consumer spends at a particular retailer as a percentage of their total time spent online for a particular day.  We compared daily attention over Thanksgiving and Black Friday compared with last year, for 10 of the largest retailers.  Here are a few of our observations.


Daily Attention to Online Retailers during Thanksgiving and Black Friday

Amazon capitalizes on traditional retailers decision to open on Thanksgiving.

Early indications are that consumer spent almost 20% more time on Amazon during Thanksgiving and Black Friday compared with the comparable days in 2011.   About 1 in 100 minutes spent shopping online last Thursday happened on Amazon.

Amazon’s YOY gains online compared to Target.com and Walmart.com illustrate the delicate balancing act that traditional retailers face.  It is likely that Amazon’s numbers went up as a result of the Target and Walmart shoppers already waiting in lines on Thanksgiving to visit physical stores to cash in on sales.

Walmart has already reported that this year was its best Black Friday yet, suggesting the online shopper chose Amazon last week and the hardcore Black Friday shopper still preferred to brave the Target and Walmart store lines.

Promotions make JC Penney relevant again. 

JC Penney has been the subject of significant negative press over the last year after electing to abandon weekly promotions in favor of permanently cutting prices on thousands of items.

JCPenney reversed course for Black Friday and joined in on the holiday discounting.  The decision appears to have gotten the attention of consumers – JCPenney.com experienced a 15% YOY increase in the share of time people spent shopping online at its site.

Also noteworthy, was the surge in percentage of minutes shopped on Kohls.com.

Black Friday online shopping grows more than Thanksgiving shopping.

It appears that the aggressive store openings on Thanksgiving had an impact on when consumers shopped online last week.  Traditionally, consumers have spent time on Thanksgiving researching for Black Friday and/or making some early purchases before shopping the physical stores.

This year, the ten retailers in our analysis experienced a 4% YOY increase in time spent shopping online during Thanksgiving, compared with a 6% increase in time spent shopping online during Black Friday.

The dust has yet to settle from last week, but it will be interesting to see how many of those Black Friday online shoppers were trying to score deals online after losing out on doorbuster sales at physical retail stores.