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As Brand Keys (the only research consultancy that specializes in customer loyalty and consumer emotional engagement measures that predict future consumer behavior) foretold 4 years ago, “Black Friday” has now become a season unto itself.

Super-charged by heightened competition, retailers have been “Black Friday-ing” earlier and earlier, i.e., offering the same discounts that traditionally only showed up the day-after Thanksgiving but now those same “specials” show up at the beginning of November. The same is true of “Cyber Monday,” which now, thanks to the likes of Amazon and Walmart, might reasonably be called “Cyber November.”

It’s probably not surprising that Thanksgiving (aka “Gray Thursday”) and the days that follow have taken on nomenclatures of their own (this is retailing and advertising after all!), but they have, which makes it a little easier to point out the differences between those 5 shopping days (6 if you count “Giving Tuesday” (started 2 years ago by New York’s 92nd Street Y and the United Nations Foundation in response to the commercialization and consumerism in the post-Thanksgiving season) and subsequent shopping – in how people are shopping for the holidays.

These facts-of-retail-and-consumer-life were identified by 16,000 consumers in Brand Keys’ 20th annual National Holiday Shopping Survey.

How Many Consumers Will Do Online Presearch Before Shopping?

Most research will be done the Sunday before Cyber Monday

Gray Thursday: 45%

Black Friday: 65%

Small Business Saturday: 40%

Sofa Sunday: 85%

Cyber Monday: 55%

But Most Advertising Will Be Done Leading Up to Cyber Monday (Ad–tonnage Indexed to a benchmark of 100)

Thanks to mobile (and a day off for many), the heaviest ad blitz will be done on Black Friday.

Gray Thursday: 129

Black Friday: 133

Small Business Saturday: 112

Sofa Sunday: 108

Cyber Monday: 105

Peak Shopping Times (EST)

Peak shopping times correlate highly with Thanksgiving prep, family celebrations, football, and work schedules.

Gray Thursday: 8:00PM – 10:00PM

Black Friday: 11:00AM – 1:00PM

Small Business Saturday: 11:00AM – 2:00PM

Sofa Sunday: 2:00PM – 4:00PM

Cyber Monday: 8:00PM – 10:00PM

Men and Women Are Different As to Who Shops When

Gray Thursday: Men: 70%, Women: 30%

Black Friday: Men: 60%, Women: 40%

Small Business Saturday: Men: 58%, Women 42%

Sofa Sunday: Men: 45%, Women: 55%

Cyber Monday: Men: 35%, Women 65%

Estimated Spend Spread

Of a projected individual $855.00 for the 2014 holiday spend, 4% higher than last year, here are estimated breakouts of consumer spending.

Gray Thursday (and prior November shopping): 11% or $95.00

Black Friday: 19% or $160.00

Small Business Saturday: 7% or $65.00

Sofa Sunday: 15% or $125.00

Cyber Monday: 35% or $300.00

Giving Tuesday (and subsequent shopping): 13% or $110.00

This year is likely to be the first time in nearly a decade that Black Friday won’t be the biggest shopping day of the holiday season in terms of traffic and sales. This is due in part to the fact that retailers offer deals year-round and consumers have taken that to heart, and more stores are open on Thanksgiving Day. With the expansion of Black Friday into an entire season (aka November) more people are shopping on – or prior to – Thanksgiving, with “Black Friday” becoming more of a ritual than a reason to buy.

As Brand Keys predicted, with the intense competition for consumer dollars, department stores and specialty shops had to become more aggressive on deals, promotions, and operating hours this holiday (albeit earlier) holiday season, and those realities are showing up in the real marketplace and on retailers’ bottom lines.


Find out more about what makes customer loyalty happen and how Brand Keys metrics is able to predict future consumer behavior: Visit our YouTube channel to learn more about Brand Keys methodology, applications and case studies.


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