Retailers are Bullish for Black Friday, Cyber Monday

Retailers have been planning and preparing for Black Friday and Cyber Monday for months, and in one week, it all comes to a head. Though promotions have been underway for the past few weeks, including Wal-Mart’s extended lay-away program and Toys R Us’s “Hot Toy Reservation” list, retailers still expect the critical post-Thanksgiving weekend to yield solid results. Our new Retail Compass Survey of CMOs, which polls 100 retail chief marketing executives on their projections for the holidays, found that retailers are feeling confident in their planning this year: They expect a 3.1 percent increase in Black Friday sales, as well as a 4.3 percent increase in Cyber Monday sales.

What’s behind the sunny outlook? With more options at their fingertips than ever, customers have come to expect seamlessly-integrated multi-platform shopping experiences. Retailers have adapted to this new reality, and are capitalizing on opportunities to reach consumers both online and offline. Some retailers are extending their Black Friday sales to their online channels; other retailers, including Best Buy, are offering price-matching programs to compete with their competitors both online and in-store.  A plurality (44 percent) of retailers indicated that they planned to devote equal efforts to in-store and online campaigns, only slightly outpacing the proportion of retailers who will continue to focus their promotional efforts in-store (41 percent).

On the e-commerce front, retailers are casting a wide net to reach their customers online and will offer a variety of incentives for online holiday shoppers. Over one-third (34 percent) of survey respondents cite free shipping as their top tactic to generate online sales, and 31 percent cite email promotions. Now that “Free Shipping Day” has become a mainstay of the holiday calendar, CMOs at the top 100 largest retailers by revenue indicate an overwhelming preference for free shipping promotions: 70 percent say they expect it to be their top driver of online holiday sales.

Retailers are also relying on stalwart tactics to drive foot traffic to their brick and mortar locations. Black Friday’s in-store promotions will get a head start, with many retailers opening their doors on Thanksgiving Day.  A majority of retailers (66 percent) identify in-store exclusive deals as their top tactic for boosting in-store sales. While many retailers, such as Target, continue to press forward with the emerging trend of exclusive in-store brands and retail partnerships (their exclusive line with Neiman Marcus launches next month), retailers understand that value remains a top priority for consumers who are looking to stretch their dollars as much as possible during the holiday season.

Stay tuned for more highlights from the 7th edition of our Compass Survey of CMOs — including insights into how retailers are spending their holiday budgets and how they’re leveraging social media this season.