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For online retailers, Thanksgiving may soon be more important than Black Friday

November 8, 2013

Online retailers have followed in the footsteps of brick-and-mortar store locations by emphasizing their holiday sales on Black Friday.

Online retailers have followed in the footsteps of brick-and-mortar store locations by emphasizing their holiday sales on Black Friday. The community has even created its own online equivalent for the day, known colloquially as Cyber Monday. However, a recent report suggests that many consumers will start purchasing their gifts even earlier – on Thanksgiving Day.

A recent report from Adobe projected record level of online sales growth on both Thanksgiving Day and Black Friday this season, with consumers expected to spend a total of $1.1 billion and $1.6 billion during the respective days. That would represent increases from 2012 online sales rates of 21 percent for Thanksgiving, and 17 percent for Black Friday. Cyber Monday is expected to reign supreme, however, among online shoppers, accounting for $2.27 billion in revenue for a year-over-year increase of 15 percent.

The message is clear: e-commerce companies need to be sure there online payment processing terminals are ready for high volumes of customers on those three days. Brad Rencher, senior vice president of digital marketing business at Adobe, suggested that Thanksgiving Day may even exceed Black Friday in revenue created at some point in the near future.

“Thanksgiving Day, Black Friday and Cyber Monday will all enjoy record online sales,” Rencher said. “Thanksgiving Day sales are projected to surpass $1 billion and could overtake Black Friday within the next five years. The growing importance of Thanksgiving Day, the shortened holiday season and the growing role of mobile and social will make 2013 a very different shopping season than ever before.”

Mobile will also play a large role for retailers in 2013. Adobe found that while the majority of consumers expect to spend no more this year than they had during 2012, a larger portion of their budgets will be spent at online and mobile channels of commerce. Mobile optimized retailers are expected to even conduct more than 20 percent of their sales via smartphones and tablets this season, while average retailers are expected to see 14 percent of their transactions conducted through credit card terminals hosted on the devices.

To compete, some brick-and-mortar locations are changing up their approach dramatically: a Chicago-area ABC affiliate, for example, recently announced that Macy’s retail locations in the U.S. would be open for business on Thanksgiving Day this year. It’ll be the first time the company has done so in more than 150 years. 

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