Retail Recap: Thanksgiving Weekend Winners, Outlook, & Next Steps

This week’s post is Part 3 of a multi part series on the 2017 Holiday Season.  Over the next few weeks, we will feature a range of topics focused on driving sales, strategies, and trends. For Part 1 in the series, click HERE and for Part 2 in the series, click HERE.

The annual shopping frenzy of Thanksgiving weekend has quickly come and gone. We’ve recapped our sales and read all the industry articles to see how our business fared in comparison. For many of us in retail, we are already looking forward to December and the remaining holiday selling period. 

Slow down though! There is much we can learn about the current state of retail from the news and recaps coming out over the past few days. This week’s Insights will examine a few of the big trends from Black Friday, Small Business Saturday, and Cyber Monday and what that means to you during the month of December.  We’ve also put together our “25 Days of Retail” calendar to keep you on task and maximize every opportunity. 


According to the National Retail Federation’s Thanksgiving Weekend recap*, it was a great year to shop with more than 174 million Americans, 8 million more than anticipated, that took advantage of the deep discounts found in stores and online. The average spend of consumers was estimated at $335.47, with 75% of those sales dollars going to gift giving. Consumers were driven to buy because of deep discounts and strong promotions that built anticipation and awareness for customers. Additionally, consumer confidence and low unemployment rates set the foundation for a strong year of sales and with mild weather across much of the country, it appears the consumer was ready to spend some of their hard earned money.  

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So Who Won Thanksgiving Weekend?


Why: Consumers are doing their homework leading up to Thanksgiving weekend. They are researching online and through their Thanksgiving Day mailers to see “who” is offering “what” at the best price. When it comes time to buy, they are confident in their choices and are ready to make quick moves…to their computers and mobile devices.  No need to go out to the chaotic stores while you can confidently make your holiday purchases in your pajamas at home.   

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Outlook: Look for online to continue to grow in presence next year and anticipate less B&M shoppers but more online shoppers. To gain more online traffic, ensure that your website can handle increased traffic and is mobile friendly. If you want to regain the physical shoppers build the “in-store” only promotions, but be prepared to go deeper than your online competition.   

Your local community

Why: As awareness and business participation continues to grow for Small Business Saturday so do the numbers of shoppers and the sales. As much as consumers love the convenience and price points of the big box retailers, many equally love the warm and fuzzies they get from knowing they just supported their neighbor and local economy. In fact, 64% of shoppers surveyed said the reason they shopped and dined was to support their local community.**  

Outlook: With 48% of consumers visiting a small business that they had never previously been to on Small Business Saturday**, it is clear SBS is becoming more relevant each year. Look for more small business districts to create events and promotions that will entice customers to spend the day shopping and noshing their way through their neighborhood. Businesses will leverage partnerships with each other that will draw in local crowds, create family fun, and build a sense of community.


Why: If your store isn’t mobile ready you definitely missed out, according to RetailDive and Adobe.

 “Mobile set a new record with 47.4% of site visits, with smartphones making up about 40% of visits, according to Adobe. Perhaps more importantly, Adobe said mobile accounted for 33.1% of Cyber Monday revenue (smartphones specifically accounted for 24.1% of revenue). Smartphone traffic specifically grew 22.2% year-over-year, while revenue coming from smartphones — at $1.59 billion on Monday — grew 39.2% percent year-over-year, marking a new all-time high.” ***

Consumers are physically attached to their mobile devices and they are becoming more savvy and efficient as they use their smartphones as a tool. They are browsing online before making purchases to ensure they are getting the best deals. 

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Outlook: Mobile is the new king and will not be slowing down anytime soon. The fierce mobile increases this year showcases that if your ecommerce site isn’t mobile friendly than you are missing sales. It’s critical to ensure your mobile features include capabilities that will make it even more convenient for your customers to search and pay. Filter and compare features along with easy pay options are absolutes if you want to make your customer’s research and purchase decision with you a little more convincing.


After quite a few soft Thanksgiving weekends, it looks like 2017 shaped up to be pretty solid but the landscape is changing dramatically and quickly. The winners are leading the pack because of technology but there is a place for everyone, big or small.  It always comes back to the customer and what you can do to make your business relevant to them. Next year’s Thanksgiving weekend seems far away now and there is so much to start considering strategically as we look forward, but for now, let’s focus on December. 

Mod. Merchant has put together your “25 days of Retail” to get you ready with daily tips and to-do’s for your retail store and your last sales hurrah of 2017. Enjoy! 

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* Consumers and Retailers Win Big Over Thanksgiving Holiday

** An Estimated Four-in-Ten (43%) American Adults Shopped or Dined Small on Small Business Saturday

*** 7 Lessons from Cyber Monday

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