November 8, 2013, 3:37 PM

Most Black Friday shoppers will head to the web

And more than a third of them will shop entirely online, a new survey finds.

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This year, 53% of U.S. adults say they plan to shop on Black Friday, the day after Thanksgiving. Of those shoppers, 72% will turn to the Internet to make at least some of their purchases, according to a new survey from couponing site Offers.com. Research firm Ipsos Public Affairs, on Offers.com’s behalf, polled 1,018 U.S. adults online on Sept. 23 and 24.

35% of U.S. adults who plan to shop on Black Friday say they will do so primarily online, 37% say they’ll shop online and in stores and 28% say they’ll shop primarily in stores. This year’s Black Friday web shoppers will skew young, with 26% of respondents under the age of 35 saying they plan to shop online on the holiday, compared with 18% of those aged 35-54 and 12% of those aged 55 and up.

The prime holiday shopping period—from Thanksgiving (which this year is also the first day of Hannukah), Nov. 28, to Christmas, Dec. 25—is six days shorter than last year. And consumers will have only four weekends—not five like last year—in that time frame to snag gifts. Among the retailers reacting to the shorter season with early promotions is Geeknet Inc., parent company of web-only electronics and gadgets retailer ThinkGeek.com. The web-only retailer said this week during its Q3 earnings call that it launched its online holiday shop on Nov. 1 instead of its typical start on Black Friday because of the tighter selling season.

Among online shoppers in the survey, 12% say they plan to finish the bulk of their holiday shopping between Thanksgiving and the following Monday, the unofficial online shopping holiday known as Cyber Monday. Another third of them (33%) say they’ll finish most holiday shopping between Thanksgiving and Christmas Eve, Dec. 24, with 1% of them completing their gift buying on Christmas Eve itself. As to the rest, 40% of the survey respondents say they shop for the holidays year round, while 14% say they do not buy any holiday gifts online.

“These trends show positive signs for the continued growth of online consumer activity,” Offers.com CEO Steve Schaffer says. “People don't have to leave Thanksgiving dinner to get to the best sales, and they most certainly don't have to shop in a physical store to get the best Black Friday deals.”

Retail chain owner Sears Holdings Corp., which operates Sears and Kmart department stores, has taken those trends to heart. For both chains, the company has updated its Shop Your Way membership program, which offers customized product offers based on customers’ shopping behavior and other attributes, to include store-specific pages. The pages allow customers to search for a local store on ShopYourWay.com and find deals and download e-coupons for that store.

Shoppers and store associates can also share photos and updates on the deals they find in a Pinterest-like feed on the store pages. And, as on the social network, customers may follow a store’s posts and leave comments on them. The Shop Your Way store pages also include a Q&A section and—if somewhat incongruously—a tab with information on how request tax filing assistance from Jackson Hewitt Tax Service, a company with which Sears partnered to offer customers tax preparation services starting this past January.

The new Shop Your Way features for both Sears and Kmart stores are available online and via mobile apps.

“We are steering two of America's most storied brands to a new era when people have fundamentally different expectations about how they shop and are looking for ways to build relationships with their local stores both physically and online,” says Leena Munjal, senior vice president customer experience and integrated retail, Sears Holdings. “As we become a more member-centric organization, we are connecting associates and Shop Your Way members on a local level to products and exclusive shopping perks that make shopping fun.”

Sears Holdings is No. 6 in the 2013 Top 500 Guide.


 

 

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