US Insights

4 Black Friday Themes to Watch

Doug Hermanson

Principal Economist

Retail 11.19.2018 / 09:00

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Retailers are shifting their focus from Black Friday.

While Black Friday has lost some of its luster, it is still an essential opportunity for retailers and suppliers to win the hearts and dollars of shoppers this year. Some retailers are expected to de-emphasize the traditional day of Black Friday in favor of sharpening promotions in the weeks leading up to it, especially online. At the same time, retailers will expand the categories and services they offer to highlight their ability to be everything to shoppers during the holiday season.

Here are four Black Friday themes we’ll be watching.

Not just a face in the monthlong crowd.

Black Friday creep has advanced as far as it can into early November. Most retailers now officially kick off their holiday promotions on the first of the month. With one day now stretching over several weeks, keeping shoppers engaged in the weeks leading up to Black Friday — as well as on the day itself — will be a challenge for retailers. Instead of the more common promotions counting down to Black Friday, retailers this year will use unique weekly promotions to entice shoppers. All these promotions could end up crowding out Black itself, but done the right way, this approach gives retailers an opportunity to differentiate Black Friday from the rest of November.

A day for stores to show all they can do.

To differentiate Black Friday from other holiday promotions, stores will emphasize their ability to provide convenience and experiences. Shoppers will be very digitally engaged on Black Friday, but stores will have the brightest spotlight. From exclusive in-store deals to signs touting retailers’ omnichannel capabilities, retailers will use the heightened shopper attention on the store to highlight all that their stores have to offer. Using in-store signs to draw shoppers’ attention to the installation, consultation, and shipping services they offer will be an additional opportunity for retailers and their partners to maintain shopper engagement.

A focused Black Friday shopper.

ShopperScape® data indicates that a significantly higher share of shoppers plan to shop Black Friday relative to last year. However, more shoppers are using Black Friday to search for specific products they have been eyeing, suggesting that retailers may find it more difficult to get shoppers to buy more than they had initially planned.

I didn’t know they sold that here.

As the share of Black Friday shoppers has leveled off, getting more dollars out of those shoppers will be key to growth. Retailers will look to surprise shoppers by offering deals on categories not traditionally sold at that retailer or not typically emphasized during Black Friday. In the absence of Toys R Us, many retailers are expanding their toy selection or adding one. Outsized growth in homegoods categories will also be an opportunity to capture more dollars from shoppers. Lowe’s and Home Depot will offer more small-ticket items to capitalize on traffic, while department stores will expand their lines to win more from Black Friday shoppers. 

Stay tuned for more coverage of the holiday season, including our upcoming preview of Cyber Monday and the entire holiday period.

Source: Kantar Consulting

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