This year’s Black Friday saw more shoppers make purchases online than ever, signaling the growth of eCommerce as foot traffic recedes in stores.
If you went out to shop this past Friday, you may have noticed thinner and less frenzied crowds at malls and brick-and-mortar stores nationwide due in part to the impressive growth of online and mobile eCommerce. The National Retail Federation’s latest survey estimates that 103 million Americans did at least some of their shopping online from Thanksgiving Thursday to this past Sunday, and retailers saw an overall 14.5% increase in online sales for a total of $4.45 billion this weekend alone (Cyber Monday statistics have yet to come in).
The $12.1 billion that Americans spent in traditional stores was actually a decline from last year, which means that proportionally more people are choosing to shop online rather than face the early-morning frenzy. This shift could also be the result of an extended “holiday” shopping season that now starts just after Halloween, which means that shoppers who would have braved malls and Wal-Marts nationwide are now choosing to do their gift-buying earlier and online.
Given these numbers, it’s not difficult to see a future where Americans start doing the bulk of their holiday shopping online as discounts on the goods they want start popping up in early November, as opposed to participating in the traditional chaos of Black Friday. Through eCommerce, shoppers have a wider variety of product choice, research tools, and access to a wider inventory than might be available in-store. And with the overall trend of extending the availability of holiday discounts, it’s likely that we’ll see a continued growth in online and mobile commerce while the Black Friday spike in brick-and-mortar stores continues to level off for everyone else but tactile shoppers that insist on seeing products in person and for whatever reason, enjoy the mosh-pit thrill of being a part of a contemporary American tradition.