Another Sign Black Friday May Be Losing Its Punch

Frequent deals days numb consumers

Author: Andria Cheng

October 17, 2017

As retailers gear up for their most important holiday selling period, there are yet more signs that the traditional start of the shopping season, Black Friday, is losing relevance. And don’t blame it just on Amazon Prime Day.

Some 52% of consumers are less inclined to shop in-store and online on Black Friday this year compared to a few years ago, according to a September survey of 1,500 consumers by  Accenture.

This year’s finding, in a study published Tuesday, also had some discouraging signs for Thanksgiving and Cyber Monday shopping: 50% and 42% of consumers respectively said they are less inclined to shop on those days this year than a few years ago.

What changed? Not surprisingly, 64% of consumers said they were turned off by the idea of dealing with crowds of shoppers fighting to get so-called doorbuster deals. . 

Meanwhile, the study also suggested that retailers are partly to blame for shoppers' lack of enthusiasm because they have blanketed consumers with ever-earlier holiday promotions,  last-minute deals and post-holiday bargains. Fully 44% of consumers said they are less motivated to shop on Black Friday because they can get as good a deal on other days.

That lack of enthusiasm reflects a new attitude about holiday shopping: The survey showed that 64% of shoppers said they buy holiday gifts throughout the year because of the rise of deal websites and Amazon Prime Day.

Other studies have pointed to the same conclusion. For instance, a Market Track survey of 1,000 U.S. shoppers in September found that only 30% of them said they would shop in-store this Thanksgiving compared to the 50% that planned on doing that last year.

The Accenture survey also suggested online will continue to pick up a growing share of holiday sales: 54% of shoppers said they are more likely to buy from their home/mobile phones or office vs. going to stores or malls. Free delivery will continue to be a key purchase decision: 53% of shoppers said they want free delivery and are willing to wait for their shipment while another 21% said they expect retailers to offer free and fast (next day) delivery.

Despite the hype about drone delivery, consumers in the survey don’t look to be too keen on it yet: 45% of consumers, led by 55% of Gen Z, said they wouldn’t use drone delivery while another 22% said they don’t understand what it is.

On the other hand, this holiday season will be a notable one when it comes to voice commerce, led by Amazon’s Alexa. Eighty-nine percent of shoppers said they are familiar with the digital voice assistant, but more importantly, 30% of consumers said they are either already using Alexa or “would definitely use” it this holiday while another 41% said they are willing to try it, according to the Accenture survey.