The holiday season is finally upon us. George Ritzer famously described Modern malls as the new Cathedrals of Consumption. With shopping increasingly becoming a cultural activity, he likened customers to worshippers, a credit-card constituency voting with their feet and wheels. One of the ways to know that Christmas is here is by the number of emails and post from companies sending Christmas greetings. All sorts of things are turning up in the post including invitations to pre-sale previews, exclusive events etc. Everyone is trying to outdo their rival to reach out to the customer. In their frenzy to gain wallet share, we have seen the emergence of ‘blockbuster sale’ days: Black Friday, Cyber Monday, Boxing Day
Black Friday is the Friday following Thanksgiving Day in the US, which is the beginning of the traditional Christmas shopping season. Though the origins of the name are debatable, recently, it is being referred to the beginning of the period in which retailers go from being in the red to being in the black.
Cyber Monday, again originating in the US is a recent phenomenon for the Monday immediately following Black Friday. With online sales starting to take off in the western world, Cyber Monday is fast gaining common currency for not just web-only players but also among high street retailers, who are using it to drive traffic to their websites.
While consumers in the US get the advantage of major deals before Christmas with Black Friday and Cyber Monday, consumers in the UK and commonwealth countries get to do their shopping on Boxing Day. Boxing Day falls on 26th December and increasingly being seen as a shopping holiday. According to Experian Hitwise, 2008 Christmas Day was the seventh busiest online day of the year for (UK) online retailers, while Boxing Day was the busiest. An online version of Boxing Day, imaginatively called the Cyber Boxing Day has started to raise its head these days
Shopping on these days is characterised with many retailers opening very early (typically 5 am or even earlier) and offering doorbuster deals and loss leaders to draw people to their stores. This is typically seen in consumer electronic and clothing retailers. The opportunity to land a bargain on these days, has changed consumer habits, who are now prepared to hold off big ticket purchases in search of a bargain. In the rush to get the customers, however, retailers should not forget the importance of maintaining their customer experience.
As we move into the final year of this decade, and we get more online & connected, retailers may invent another blockbuster day soon. Twitter Tuesday anyone?
The Capgemini Customer Experience Blog team wishes everyone a Merry Christmas.
(This blog appeared in Capgemini’s Customer Experience Blog in Dec 2009)