Retailers Grow Holiday Sales by Adjusting to Shifting Preferences

Published Wednesday, November 28, 2018

No industry is more dependent on the fourth-quarter than retailers, who count on big spending during the holidays to ensure they finish in the black. For years, the holiday focus has been on the day after Thanksgiving, or Black Friday. The holidays remain as important as ever, but retailers are successfully adapting to a new reality in which shoppers make more purchases online and are less willing to wake up early on the day after Thanksgiving and endure long lines to get the best deals.

Results from Thanksgiving weekend show that more people than ever shopped over the holiday weekend. From Thanksgiving Day through Cyber Monday, more than 165 million Americans shopped either in stores or online, surpassing the 164 million who had said they would shop in a consumer sentiment survey conducted ahead of the holiday by Prosper Insights & Analytics for the National Retail Federation.

Other reports from retailers and analytics firms confirmed that sales, not just the number of shoppers, increased. The strong sales were fueled by online purchases, which were strong at both traditional retailers and online specialists. Also, the drop-off in visits to traditional stores was smaller than some analysts had projected, and spending per customer increased.

Steps retailers have taken to boost sales include:

  • Embracing technology to boost online sales and improve the in-store experience.
  • Offering consumers more options of when to shop during the holidays.
  • Making special deals, both online and in stores, available on more days.
  • Emphasizing convenience in every way possible – including more checkout and delivery options.

“For several years, we’ve been talking about the dynamic nature of the retail industry and the speed of change necessary to meet the consumer demand,” NRF President and CEO Matthew Shay said. “This year’s research clearly shows that the investments made by retailers are paying off in a big way.”

To learn more about how retailers are approaching this critical sales period, click here.

Click here to see more from the National Retail Federation on its holiday surveys.