SHOPPER: Here's Why I Hit The Stores On Black Friday, But Didn't Actually Buy Anything

black friday teens shoppingTeens shop in Fargo, North Dakota on Black Friday.

Photo: Chris Franz/Getty Images

Black Friday sales were reportedly down 2% this year, and it’s being blamed on early promotions (i.e., stores doing sales on Wednesday and Thursday). However, what’s interesting is that foot traffic was up 3.5% on the day according to Shoppertrak, which isn’t quite consistent with a pull-forward in demand.So why would foot traffic be up, while actual sales be down? Could it be a smarter, more informed shopping public that can research prices better?

A reader emailed us to relay his experience on Black Friday

My wife and I were some of those people who stood in line Thursday. I did Kmart in the AM and Sears in the PM and thought about Walmart at 10pm in Pittsburgh.    

We arrived over 2 hours early and found that they only had 3 of the doorbuster items, so we were too far back to get the “coupon” we waited anyhow.    

When we finally got inside and looked at our  intended items (I need  a 32″ TV and a BluRay player) we found that with my previous research in the past couple months the prices of similar items were over priced.    

For example a Samsung Blue Ray normally ~$90 at Kmart in the am the price stated Normal $130 doorbuster price $90 and later Sears had the same one for $80 (Sic).

He added in a followup email:

I did see several people walk out with empty hands

It’s also interesting that e-commerce year-over-year growth was huge again.

IBM has some fresh data out on the subject.

Here’s part of their press release:


As part of IBM’s Smarter Commerce initiative, the IBM Digital Analytics Benchmark revealed the following trends as of 12:00 am PST:

  • Consumer Spending Increases: Online sales on Thanksgiving grew by 17.4 per cent followed by Black Friday where sales increased 20.7 per cent over last year.
  • Mobile Shopping: Mobile purchases soared with 24 per cent of consumers using a mobile device to visit a retailer’s site, up from 14.3 per cent in 2011.  Mobile sales exceeded 16 per cent, up from 9.8 per cent in 2011.   
  • The iPad Factor: The iPad generated more traffic than any other tablet or smartphone, reaching nearly 10 per cent of online shopping. This was followed by iPhone at 8.7 per cent and Android 5.5 per cent. The iPad dominated tablet traffic at 88.3 per cent followed by the Barnes and Noble Nook at 3.1 per cent, Amazon Kindle at 2.4 per cent and the Samsung Galaxy at 1.8 per cent.
  • Multiscreen Shopping: Consumers shopped in store, online and on mobile devices simultaneously to get the best bargains. Overall 58 per cent of consumers used smartphones compared to 41 per cent who used tablets to surf for bargains on Black Friday.
  • The Savvy shopper: While consumers spent more overall, they shopped with greater frequency to take advantage of retailer deals and free shipping.  This led to a drop in average order value by 4.7 per cent to $181.22.  In addition, the average number of items per order decreased 12 per cent to 5.6. 
  • Social Media Sentiment Index: Shoppers expressed positive consumer sentiment on promotions, shipping and convenience as well as the retailers themselves at a three to one ratio.
  • Social Sales: Shoppers referred from Social Networks such as Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn and YouTube generated .34 per cent of all online sales on Black Friday, a decrease of more than 35 per cent from 2011.

“This year’s holiday shopper was hungry for great deals and retailers didn’t disappoint, rolling out compelling offers which consumers gobbled up on Thanksgiving straight through Black Friday,” said Jay Henderson, Strategy Director, IBM Smarter Commerce. “The big winners were chief marketing officers who used technology to deliver customer experiences that not only connected shoppers with personalised deals but did so at the right touchpoint and at precisely the right time and place, whether on their couch or the store floor.”

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