Drive by any shopping center early on the day after Thanksgiving and you’ll see crowds of eager shoppers ready to pounce on the hottest gifts. However, with online deals catching on like wildfire, are the days of waiting in the freezing cold and trampling fellow shoppers nearing an end? Here, three reasons why Cyber Monday might have a leg up on Black Friday.
According to comScore, Americans spent $4.3 billion online from Thanksgiving through Cyber Monday in 2012, with double-digit increases on every day as compared to 2011. On Black Friday itself, online sales rose 28% while in-store sales dropped 1.8%. Clearly, consumers increasingly favor online deals over those in stores, especially since they can find the former over a five-day period.
Simply put, it’s a lot easier to find the best deals by browsing the Web than to sift through newspaper ads and drive from store to store. The explosion of mobile devices has made it even more convenient to shop online as shoppers can order their gifts from just about anywhere. Many online retailers witnessed double-digit growth in mobile traffic and one site, PriceGrabber, saw an increase of over 3,200 percent in smartphone traffic in 2012.
Cyber Monday and other online deals are typically comparable to those found in stores on Black Friday. Thus, on the surface, the choice appears to be a wash.
However, online shopping has two distinct advantages in this realm. One is free shipping, as many online retailers offer this perk on Cyber Monday. Some even do so with no minimum purchase requirement. As such, there’s often no reason to head out in the cold and wait in line.
Second, it’s a lot easier to comparison shop online than in stores. With sites such as Amazon and eBay, shoppers can instantly compare prices and other features and select the best value. Of course, they can also compare by simply pulling up a few sites and punching the same item in for the best price.
There is One Caveat…
Some shoppers see Black Friday as more than just a day to get steep discounts. They actually enjoy the mad rush.
A 2012 survey by Qualtrics found that half get “excited” by the Black Friday shopping experience. This could be because some enjoy competitive shopping. Others likely enjoy the loud jingles, gaudy decorations, and overall holiday atmosphere.
Online shopping may be eroding Black Friday’s appeal, but the classic shopping holiday should survive for a while. Logically speaking, longer sales, convenience, safety and better deals make online shopping a superior option. However, logic doesn’t always apply during the holiday shopping frenzy and there will always be those who endure the blistering cold and mad dash to the video game aisle in Target for the simple thrill of it.