Holiday sales hit new highs, Amazon touts own brands

Mike Troy
Editorial Director, Grocery Group, Progressive Grocer and Store Brands
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Shoppers drove record-spending levels in-store and online over the Thanksgiving weekend and were expected to break records on Cyber Monday, too. Adobe Analytics said U.S. consumers would exceed $9 billion in sales on Monday, up from $7.9 billion done last year on the cyber holiday.

Amazon is in the thick of it, of course, and for the first time focused more on its own brands than years before, according to the news organization Quartz.

Breaking down Amazon’s Black Friday deals announcements over the past 12 years, Quartz found that this was the first year Amazon dedicated deals to its Amazon Brands private label section and saw an increase in mentions of its own brands in general. The article stated that Amazon’s Black Friday announcements referenced its own products 149 times compared to less than 20 a decade ago. The company also promoted 640 brands exclusively sold on Amazon; the Seattle-based retailer touts more than 150,000 private brand products.

The promoted Black Friday products looked to span across categories including toys, pets, household and kitchen, lawn, beauty, and even grocery at Whole Foods Market.

Looking back at the weekend in all, shopper traffic to stores and shopping centers reportedly declined by 6.2% on Black Friday, but increased 2.3% on Thanksgiving Day compared to the prior year, according to Brian Field, senior director of global retail consulting for ShopperTrak, part of Sensormatic Solutions. “Shopping in physical stores during the holidays continues to be an exciting annual event for consumers. With eight of the 10 predicted busiest shopping days still to come, including Super Saturday, which will fall on Dec. 21 this year, retailers are in for a successful holiday season,” Field said.

Conversely, a survey by the publication found more shopping had been done online for Black Friday, as opposed to in-store, with one in four respondents saying they only shopped online this year (up 10% from last year) and one in five respondents saying they only shopped in-store, down from last year.

An estimated 160 million people visited stores over the weekend, shopped an average of 12 stores and spent an average of $504, according to a survey conducted by the International Council of Shopping Centers (ICSC).

“Physical retail continues to be the overwhelming choice of consumers to make their purchases. This weekend was no different and is a great indicator of what is still to come this holiday season,” said Tom McGee, president and CEO of ICSC.

Physical retail continues to be the overwhelming choice of consumers to make their purchases.
Tom McGee, president and CEO, International Council of Shopping Centers

Digital expectations are dominant theme
Physical retail dominates, but shoppers expect digital integration. For example, Salesforce reported that digital revenues on Black Friday increased 14% to a record $7.2 billion and Thanksgiving Day digital sales increased 17% to $4.1 billion. What’s more, 65% of all digital orders were made through a mobile device, according to Salesforce.

Adobe also reported that Black Friday was a record day for digital sales, which were $7.4 billion and heavily impacted by mobile, noting that "buy online, pick up in store "was a key driver, up 43.2%.

“Black Friday broke mobile shopping records with $2.9 billion spent through smartphones alone,” said Taylor Schreiner, principal analyst and head of Adobe digital insights. “With Christmas now rapidly approaching, consumers increasingly jumped on their phones rather than standing in line. Even when shoppers went to stores, they were now buying nearly 41% more online before going to the store to pick up.” 

Cyber Monday sales are expected to set new sales records as well with those offering pick up and ship from store capabilities expected to perform well.