Deals, discounts, and promotions flooding customers’ emails—the retail industry launched into Black Friday sales mode as early as a week ahead of time and with greater anticipation, as experts say consumers are ready to spend in-store and online.
It’s a shopping trend that started years ago but seems to grow every season, retail analysts say. But it certainly is a shopper’s weekend—the post–Thanksgiving Day shopping spree starts with Black Friday, goes through Small Business Saturday, and continues into Cyber Monday.
“People are out there looking for those bigger, more expensive pieces as gifts,” says Joseph Ladin, CEO of SFLMaven, a luxury jewelry corporation known for its pre-owned pieces and online auctions.
“This is the weekend that it’s either now or never,” Ladin says. “For Christmas time, we try to pour on as many extras as we can to try to showcase as many pieces as possible to our customers.… We go out on a limb and we increase our volume.”
That is especially true in 2021, Ladin adds, when people have saved more money during the pandemic by eating out less and traveling less frequently.
The National Retail Federation (NRF) predicts nearly two million more people will shop during this three-day weekend spectacular, another boost for what the trade organization says will be a “record-breaking holiday season.” It predicts overall holiday 2021 retail sales will be up 8.5%–10.5% across most categories, including luxury.
The NRF’s annual survey with Prosper Insights & Analytics found that 66% of holiday shoppers surveyed in early November plan to shop during Thanksgiving weekend this year. That is an estimated 158.3 million people, up from 156.6 million last year—but still lower than the 165.3 million who hit the mall or their laptops in pre-pandemic 2019.
Examples of sales and discounts varies. KIL N.Y.C. is doing 20% off its jewelry line as well as a “buy this, get that free” special. Delphine Leymarie Fine Jewelry is doing a 10-year Anniversary Gratitude sale taking 10% off everything on its website through the end of the month, highlighting the “week of thanks and gratitude” around Thanksgiving.
Beauvince Jewelry created a selection of 30 pieces that will be discounted 30% through the end of Cyber Monday. And Banter by Piercing Pagoda—Signet’s mall-based jewelry and piercing banner—is doing a series of discounts and promotions, including 40% off everything $49.99 and up through Black Friday; buy one, get up to two 75% off on Saturday and Sunday; and 50% off everything $49.99 and up online on Cyber Monday.
Among those shopping on Thanksgiving Day, the NRF says 65% are likely to do so in stores, up from 50% last year, when worries about COVID-19 were still keeping many people at home. On Black Friday, 64% are likely to shop in stores, up from 51% last year.
For those shopping during the weekend, deals that are “too good to pass up” remain the top reason, cited by 58%, but “tradition” continued to come in second at 28%.
To stretch the anticipation even further, retailers started advertising Black Friday deals the weekend before or sent out emails to subscribers announcing their sales starting as early as Monday, including online stores such as Delicacies Jewelry in Minneapolis to Tapper’s Jewelry retail locations in Michigan. Stores also are promoting shopping early and their in-stock selections to make sure shoppers get the gifts they want for the holiday season.
Delicacies wife-and-husband team Nicolle R. Nelson and John Peter Larson say they ran an “early bird” Black Friday discount for email subscribers and previous customers. The 25% discount was available to these shoppers from Friday through midnight Monday, Larson says. The website will open up the same discount to all shoppers on Black Friday through midnight on Cyber Monday.
“Last year, there was enormous uncertainty, and it was hard to know what to do. We took our cues from Amazon, which held an earlier Prime Day, so we had a sale in October. We did have some people shopping earlier, but even with those early orders, we had some shipping delays,” Larson says. “This year, rather than take our cues from Amazon or Target—people we don’t necessarily compete with—we decided to ask what we could do for our customers.”
Larson says they decided during some earlier brainstorming around holiday 2021 to seek to build stronger customer relationships through both “nurturing emails,” like the ones that share recipes or the couple’s culinary icons such as Julia Child, as well as traditional sales communications. Delicacies also wanted its repeat customers to have a wider selection of items, knowing that some might sell out given the fast pace of shopping around the holidays.
“As a small business, we love our customers. We don’t have millions of them, but they’re growing, and people have this deep relationship with our brand and our jewelry,” Larson says. “We can’t control larger market forces, but we can offer exceptional customer service.”
Top: U.S. consumers are expected to go big and get out into retail stores this weekend, with Black Friday as the kickoff to the 2021 holiday shopping season (photo: Getty Images).@jckmagazine
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