2020 Holiday Shopping: Black Friday and Cyber Monday

Macy, Target, and Amazon are among the brands/retailers planning towards Black Friday and Cyber Monday. Some of their plans and initiatives include earlier sale dates, inventory planning/promotions, store closures, and online shopping.

1. Earlier Sales Date

  • Traditionally, Black Friday falls on the 27th of November 2020, but Amazon’s strategy is to start its Black Friday deals from the 26th of October and run it through the 19th of November 2020.
  • The company would provide “special offers” with different products each week. According to Amazon’s seller news site (Tamebay), Amazon’s Prime Day is expected to fall between the first week of October.
  • Target announced on its blog that it would start its holiday sales in October and spread it through the season; this plan is to make shopping more convenient and safer.
  • The retail company also noted that the holiday season could mean deal hunting and crowded events, and this is not a year for crowds. Additionally, Target plans to expand same-day delivery to tackle increased holiday demands.
  • Macy’s CEO, Jeff Gennette, addressed the massive crowd concerns due to the Black Friday holiday, and he anticipated that the push would come after Halloween. Jeff Gennette stated that “thinking about a Black Friday 10 days before Christmas, what does that mean in terms of traffic if people are nervous about gathering with crowds? He anticipates the real push will come after Halloween.”

2. Closure of Stores/Online sales

  • Popular retail companies such as Best Buy, Dicks Sporting Goods, Kohls, Target, and Walmart stated that they would be closed on Thanksgiving holiday to limit crowds. Additionally, Walmart “will have regular hours the Wednesday before Thanksgiving, close for Thanksgiving, and then resume normal hours on Black Friday.”
  • Despite the partial closure of stores for the Thanksgiving holiday, experts believe that “Walmart will push its super-savings online and market it as a patriotic move.”

3. Inventory Planning/Promotions

  • As a result of increased online sales during Black Fridays, brands are planning for stressful inventory. Fur’s co-founder, Lillian Tung, stated that “her team is planning the same efforts and inventory as in previous years.” One week of sales could mean either 12 months/weeks/days of inventory. She stated that inventory “fluctuates by the day, which is incredibly stressful from a founder and cash perspective.”
  • Promotions of the relevant product categories are among the initiatives by retail brands towards the Black Friday holidays. “Based on Democracy’s analytics, Kellwood Apparell adjusted its assortment for Thanksgiving through Cyber Monday,” the company’s promotion strategy is in tune with the changes in demand for the different product categories.

4. Curbside Pickups

  • The pandemic led to increased online sales and curbside pickups, and the retail industry is taking note.
  • Leadership from Macy, Gennette, noted that the “curbside pickup is going to be a big secret weapon for the company this holiday season that they didn’t have last holiday season.”

5. Emotional Advertisment

  • According to the CO-founder/CMO of Fur, the company would be “focusing on the care aspect” of marketing campaigns. The chief marketing officer emphasized that “brands should be focused on campaigns that resonate emotionally this year.”

Research Strategy

To provide specific examples of the plans/initiatives and advertising tactics brands/retailers are using for Black Friday and Cyber Monday, we scoured through news reports, industry magazines/publications, and press releases from the retail industry. This search method proved fruitful because the information needed was readily available. The research team narrowed the examples towards Black Friday and Cyber Monday; however, some brands/retailers addressed holidays as a whole and had the same strategy across the entire holiday period.

Holiday 2020: Digital Experiences

  • Brands and retailers have responded differently towards the 2020 holiday season. Amazon fixed earlier dates for its Black Friday deals, and other retailers (Walmart, Target, Kohls) have opted to close its stores on Thanksgiving to limit massive crowd gatherings.
  • Currently, most retailers are yet to announce their store hours for Thanksgiving or Black Friday.
  • According to the Washington Post, “retailers are re-imagining a shopping experience that has long hinged on Black Friday doorbuster deals and shelves of impulse buys. This year, analysts suggest that companies are rethinking what they want to sell and how.”
  • Retailers have invested in digital commerce, websites, and virtual try-on capabilities; however, experts also believe that retailers have to “find ways to safely accommodate consumers who want to browse and buy in person.”
  • In the US, retailers are also looking for ways to replicate the in-store experiences with the aid of parking lot pop-ups, sidewalk stalls, and outdoor markets.
  • Customers at the South Coasts Plaza in Costa Mesa, California, can safely try out clothing from over “200 brands in the mall’s newly built open-air suites on top of its parking garage. Customers must make appointments and wear masks while they shop.”
  • Statements from reputable company heads indicate that in-store experiences are bound to be replaced by new digital experiences. Liad Agmon, “the chief executive of Dynamic Yield, which provides digital customer experience services to retailers stated; pre-COVID, there was a lot of real-world discovery, now that discovery is going to have to take place differently.”
  • In response to the pandemic, retailers are inclined to offer fewer experiences and move back to traditional gifts. According to Natalie Kotlyar, the head of retail practice at BDO, “this year, the company is going to be moving back to more traditional gifts like electronics and toys.”
  • Additionally, retailers that have now announced deals for the 2020 holiday season include Clarks, Nike, and Puma.

Holiday 2020: Media Use

  • There is a significant amount of uncertainty surrounding the 2020 black Friday. Amazon fixed earlier dates for its Black Friday deals, and retail giants such as Walmart, Target, Kohls, Dick’s Sporting Goods, Ulta, Home Depot, and Best Buy announced that their stores would be closed on Thanksgiving to limit massive crowd gatherings.
  • In addition to the closed stores and early dates, most retailers are yet to announce their store hours for Thanksgiving or Black Friday.
  • Brands such as Target and Home Depot use digital media through corporate blogs and websites to announce their 2020 Black Friday plans. The retailers offer a stretched period of holiday deals, both online and in-stores, to curb excessive gatherings.
  • Amazon is also utilizing digital media to announce and promote its plans for the holiday period. According to the company’s news site Tamebay, Amazon would start its Black Friday deals on the “26th of October, a full month ahead of the big day, and run through until the 19th of November.”
  • The digital leader at Kellwood Apparel stated that the company’s promotional strategy is to “align with the changes in demand by product category.
  • Macy promoted its Black Friday deals tagged “incredible specials” with TV commercials; however, the last airing was on the 13th of July 2020. Additionally, there was no follow up on the company’s social media platforms (Facebook and YouTube).
  • Furthermore, “ spring Black Friday blowout TV commercial, bigger than Black Friday,” was last aired on the 30th of April 2020.
  • It is worthy of note that companies such as Apple, Dell, and Asos are among the companies with the best Black Friday to Cyber Monday media marketing for previous years. These companies used digital media, social media, and other marketing channels to promote their actions throughout the holiday season.

Research Strategy

To determine if brands/retailers are using media in “new and different” ways to promote their actions towards the 2020 holiday season, we scoured through media publications and news sites, industry magazines, reports, and news reports. This search method proved abortive as the information needed was unavailable. We came across information identifying the companies that have started making plans towards the 2020 holiday season (Walmart, Target, Kohls, Dick’s Sporting Goods, Ulta, Home Depot, and Best Buy); this informed our next strategy. Our next approach was to analyze those individual companies, websites, social media pages, and blogs. We were hoping to determine new and different ways these companies are using the media to promote their actions towards the 2020 holiday season. Using Target as a case study, we searched through the company’s website, new deals page, social media pages (YouTube, Facebook, Twitter, Instagram), corporate blogs, and press releases. This search method proved abortive as well. We went further to search through advertisement channels for print ads and TV ads to do our due diligence. We searched through Media Radar and iSpot TV, hoping to identify how brands/retailers are using the traditional marketing channels, but the information was unavailable. The research team found information that most retailers are yet to announce their plans for the holiday season, which could be why there is little data on the media activity for brands and retailers.

Glenn is the Lead Operations Research Analyst at The Digital Momentum with experience in research, statistical data analysis and interview techniques. A holder of degree in Economics. A true specialist in quantitative and qualitative research.


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