While Black Friday sees web shopping explosion, stores still packed

Murissa Barrington

BIZ/TECH REPORTER

Shilpi Sharma finished all of her holiday and Black Friday shopping without ever setting foot inside of a store.

Sharma, a fourth-year Humber Bachelor of Nursing student, said she completed her shopping with nothing more than her smartphone.

“For the Black Friday sales, I bought a pair of shoes, my gym clothes, my yoga pants and all that stuff from the Adidas outlet,” Sharma said. “So for that I got like 60 per cent off.

“I personally feel that for these certain dates, I prefer to go online,” she said. “I would never want to go in the mall struggling to get in a line and then wait for hours and hours.”

Sharma says she buys almost everything she needs online. Her busy lifestyle as a nursing student doesn’t allow her to waste time shopping in stores.

Her story is similar to many others who opted to shop from the comfort of their homes on Black Friday. According to Adobe Digital Insights, Black Friday set a new record for being the biggest mobile sales day, with over $1.2 billion in revenue.

Black Friday falls on the Friday of the American Thanksgiving weekend, and Cyber Monday is the Monday following the weekend. A release from Adobe Digital Insights expects Cyber Monday to be the biggest online shopping day in retail history, just edging online sales on Black Friday.

Mobile sales reached a new high, making up for over a third of online purchases during Black Friday.

Isabella Coluccio, a first-year Interior Decorating student, also spent her Black Friday weekend at home making purchases online.

“It was just so much faster. The things that I ordered came to my house two days later,” Coluccio said.

To try and draw young shoppers such as Humber students, companies are using modern ways of advertising sales. Coluccio says advertisements included in her social media feeds were hard to ignore because she saw them every day.

“My Instagram feed was just full of [advertisements] and all over my social media pages with ads about Black Friday sales,” Coluccio said.

Marketing professor and program manager at Humber Christine McCaw says this method is what she’s noticed most companies are using to drive mobile sales.

“I think they’re trying to get people to act on the immediacy of it. I think that’s something that’s done quite well on social (media),” McCaw said.

“There’s also the other incentives. If you spend, $65 or whatever it is you get free shipping.” she said. “So, they’re also trying to get the ‘I was only going to purchase one item but I’m going to get free shipping if I purchase two’ and use all of these incentives to try and get more dollars per transaction.”

McCaw says online shopping among Canadians is especially popular and will continue to grow because people lead busier lives. Despite the one per cent drop in visitors at brick-and-mortar shops for Black Friday, she also predicts that these shops will still hold a place in the industry providing an experience rather than being a go-to for all shopping needs.

“There were some retailers who started out completely online and have now moved to open some pop-up shops,” McCaw said. “But I think we’re starting to see a trend in personalized service and customer service that people are wanting more, they’re desiring more.

“I think that the social aspect of the shopping experience as a leisure activity will continue to keep the malls and some of those places going,” she said.

For some, the social aspect of shopping made enduring Black Friday worthwhile. Early Childhood professor Patricia Hall is someone who says she skipped the online sales to make it an outing for her children.

“I have young children, 10, six and seven and they wanted to be a part of it. It was like the hype of going to Black Friday,” said Hall. “I think the sales were the same as online but I just took them for the experience. If I didn’t have them I probably would have just done it online.”

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