The beginning of the Christmas shopping season in the United States started with the thermometer sunk below zero degrees in a good part of the country. But this year on Black Friday arrives in the calendar several days in advance and the chains that were adopted to the new way of consuming in the Internet era have been heating the environment for weeks to take advantage of the consumer fever, which this year is fueled because there is more money to spend thanks to the tax rebates, higher wages, the low unemployment rate and savings with gasoline.
It's the first Black Friday in the US without the chain of toy stores Toy's "R" Us, who had to liquidate all its stores last summer after failing in a process of restructuring that a year ago was already impossible. In the same situation is now Sears. It is closing hundreds of stores to survive in a business that dominates Walmart, Target, Costco and Amazon, which take advantage of the gap in what is expected to be the best Black Friday in seven years.
Best Buy is among the winners of this transformation process in the retail business that has been growing for years. Reinforced the supply of appliances and in their establishments can be found up to Barbies and Legos. Traditional stores have announced the closure of 5,470 stores throughout the country so far this year, according to Coresight Research. They are less than in 2017, but then RadioShack and The Limited disappeared.
The bargain hunters' pilgrimage began late on Thursday evening, after the binge of Thanksgiving. Those who preferred to stay at home doing the digestion pulled their tablets and phones. If last year one of the star items on Black Friday was the Instant Pot electric pressure cooker, this season has the rival Anova Precision Cooker. They were reduced by 50%. Succulent discounts that are replicated in laptops and mobile phones.
The National Retail Federation estimates that about 164 million Americans will make purchases during the Thanksgiving bridge until Cyber Monday. Six out of ten plan to do at least half the expense these four days. But Black Friday is becoming an event less and less crucial and more purchases are made online. This forces the stores to adjust the inventories to the demand so that the costs do not eat the profit margin.
Queues in stores stopped being news in the United States three years ago. The first data offered by Adobe Analytics, which tracks the sales of 80 of the top 100 chains with electronic stores, indicates that transactions made through mobile phones grew by 30% on Thursday night. Even Macy's, the department chain that symbolizes traditional commerce, takes advantage of Internet sales. But physical presence is key.
Even JCPenney, which is experiencing serious difficulties, is attracting customers who previously visited Toys' "R" Us and two years ago began to offer appliances to take advantage of the rout in Sears. The presentation and selection of the products also changed. Despite this rebalancing, as indicated by Deloitte, the adjustment will continue. In the US there is nine times more commercial space per inhabitant than in Europe, according to the International Council of Shopping Centers.
The NRF anticipates that this year spending during the holiday season will exceed 720,000 million dollars, 4.8% more than in 2017. It is half a percentage point less than last year although it is more robust than 3.9% on average registered during the last five years in the US. "The economic climate is very favorable", values the CEO of Macy's, Jeff Gennette. Some 59,600 million will be spent on Black Friday, according to GlobalData Retail, 5.7% more than in 2017.
Online sales are expected to grow 20%, according to IHS Markit. The consultant Customer Growth anticipates that this season will be at par in traffic to the past, although the cold will take effect at the beginning. And it is not just a question of prices. Also of convenience. Target temporarily eliminated the minimum purchase value that must be made to receive free home delivery. It's something Amazon also does, an incentive reserved for Prime subscribers.
The queues are no longer understood as part of the shopping experience on Black Friday, when the package arrives at the door of the house in less than two days or can be picked up at the establishment without having to go through the cashier. Walmart, for example, has dependents who process orders on the same shelf, with Apple stores. The most patients will wait for the session on Monday and later coinciding with the long Christmas weekend.