Various surveys and actual data focused on this weekend’s all important shopping behaviors indicate a mixed bag of results. The challenge for most of the collected data at this point is that there are different assumptions and context related to reported results and thus readers need to view the data as initial trending indicators. However, for retail and B2C focused supply chains, the implication is that last year’s scenarios of last-minute promotional and shopping activity may well repeat during the few weeks remaining in the 2014 holiday shopping period.
The Thanksgiving Weekend Spending Survey conducted by the National Retail Federation (NRF) indicates that spending over this weekend’s 4 day period fell 11 percent from the same period last year. The report estimates that shoppers spent an average of $380.95, down 6.4 percent from the $407.02 recorded in the 2013 survey. Overall shopper traffic was estimated to have dropped by 5.2 percent. According to the NRF survey, Black Friday still drew an estimated 86.9 million of both online and brick-and-mortar shoppers.
During this weekend Supply Chain Matters also reviewed results of IBM’s Digital Analytics Benchmark report that analyzes actual online buying activity as it occurred. That report indicates that online sales during the Thanksgiving holiday was up 14.3 percent, while Black Friday sales were up 9.5 percent over 2013 levels. The IBM analytics data indicates that online shoppers spent on average $121.91 per order on Black Friday and that consumers continue to trend towards online buying preferences. We include some infographics generated by IBM’s online analysis.
According to the IBM survey, for the first time, traffic from mobile devices is outpacing traffic generated from desktop devices. We believe that is a strong indicator that the mobile based consumer is the new shopping paradigm.
Regarding specific item categories, the NRF survey points to:
Apparel– up 54.5 percent
Toys– up 32.6 percent
Electronics– up 34.2 percent
Home Décor – up 20 percent
The IBM online analytics data provides some correlation to the above categories and indicates that the Health and Beauty category was the top destination for online shoppers, increasing 56.9 percent from 2013 levels.
For retail and B2C focused merchandising, sales and operations (S&OP) and supply chain fulfillment execution teams, the implication of data at this point implies that last year’s scenarios of last-minute promotional and shopping activity may well have to repeat during the few weeks remaining in the 2014 holiday shopping period. That trend is obviously further compounded by goods that may be hung-up in U.S. west coast ports and inter-modal networks making their way to available inventory. A continuance of severe winter weather storms are another open question. For carriers such as FedEx, UPS and various 3PL’s, prior plans to augment last-minute and last-mile delivery networks may well come to the forefront in the remaining weeks of 2014.