Store Versus Screen: Black Friday in the Twenty-First Century

For decades, Black Friday has loomed large in the retail world, as we discussed in the first in our series of blogs on this extraordinary shopping event. In fact, even the phrase “Black Friday” might conjure up images of long lines twisting around storefronts, crowds of people clustered in front of glass doors about to open, and masses of fast-moving shoppers rushing through aisles. In fact, many view this shopping event as an annual outing, and its attendance even outpaces that of popular amusement parks. According to U.S. News and World Report, “Americans spend more time shopping on Thanksgiving weekend than they do visiting Disney hot spots,” with a stunning “fifty-five percent of Americans” partaking in the purchasing. As most Black Friday aficionados can attest, there is a particular satisfaction in discovering the perfect sale item in the store and carrying it triumphantly out the doors.

At the same time, digital technology has transformed nearly every facet of modern life, and shopping is no exception. In all likelihood, you use a digital cart just as often as a real one, clicking on your favorite items rather than taking the time to go pick them up in the store. The magic of Black Friday has always been in making holiday shopping more convenient for customers, understanding and catering to their needs. While this unique retail event still undoubtedly takes place in person, it is increasingly popular online, as well. The savviest companies leverage both in-person and Internet Black Friday techniques to attract customers and amplify their profits during the holiday season.

At Emojot, we use sophisticated technology to help businesses better understand how their customers feel. Our innovative Emotion Sensors® allow respondents (emoters) to express their emotions using their favorite digital tools – emojis! We are passionate about helping enterprises expand by truly getting in touch with their clients. That’s why we’ve used our very own tools to survey hundreds of shoppers and gather actionable insights you can use to grow your business. We’ve put together this series of blogs to discuss the results of our Emotion Sensor® and explain how you can utilize our findings to benefit your business. In the following, we focus on how the Internet and digital technology have changed Black Friday.

Digital Shopping for Days

The digital marketplace has undoubtedly made a permanent impact on retail. While many stores, of course, bring their Black Friday deals to the Web, Internet shopping has become such a sensation that many businesses also participate in Cyber Monday. Held the Monday following Black Friday, this event features a variety of online-exclusive sales.

As Reader’s Digest describes, Cyber Monday came about over a decade ago, “a few days before Thanksgiving 2005,” when the Nation Retail Federation (NRF) “debuted the term ‘Cyber

Monday.’” The NRF explained that since “77 percent of online retailers had seen their sales ‘increase substantially’ on Cyber Monday” and “[expected] the trend to continue.” As it turns out, the NRF’s predictions were right, since just days later, “that Monday, online sales reached almost a half-billion dollars, a 26 percent increase from the previous year.”

This increase has continued and even broke records this year, especially now that many retailers have linked Black Friday and Cyber Monday, offering outstanding deals throughout the entire weekend. The Washington Post reported that, “as of 10 a.m. [on Cyber] Monday [2017]… retailers had racked up $840 million online sales” between Black Friday and Cyber Monday, “a 17 percent increase from last year” and “Cyber Monday was expected to be the biggest online shopping day in history.” Especially in the days following Thanksgiving, retailers ought to be grateful for (and take advantage of) the incredible power of online shopping.

The Modern Mobile Marketplace

Back in 2005, most consumers did their online holiday shopping on a web browser on their computer or laptop. Fast-forward to today, however, and, increasingly, users are buying presents on their phones and tablets. Forbes’ 2017 “Black Friday Retail Recap” explains: “Fueled by heavy millennial usage and a more user friendly thumb-shopping experience, mobile purchases set a new holiday record, generating 47.4 percent of site visits (39.9 percent smartphones, 7.6 percent tablets) and chalking up 33.1 percent of online revenue (24.1 percent smartphones, 9.0 percent tablets).”

If your business isn’t taking advantage of these stunning statistics, it’s time to rethink your digital Black Friday and Cyber Monday presence on mobile eCommerce platforms.

In addition, AdWeek notes that the mobile boom isn’t just for multinational corporations and enormous department stores: “surprisingly, it’s not big brands that are driving mobile conversions.

According to Adobe, websites from small retailers that make $10 million or less convert twice as much as bigger retailers that make $100 million or more.” So, no matter the size of your enterprise, you should be taking heed of these numbers and maximizing your mobile presence, especially post-Thanksgiving.

Brick-and-Mortar Black Friday

Even in the midst of this digital expansion, foot traffic on the day after Thanksgiving is still going relatively strong. Forbes notes: “It’s no surprise that retailers watched consumer foot traffic dip during the official kickoff to the holiday selling season amid a $2.3 trillion global e-commerce market that’s growing exponentially faster than brick-and-mortar shopping.”

However, this decrease was only by “a combined 1.6 percent…and in-store traffic, although trending downward, resulted in more purchases than last year.” This suggests that, even though online purchases are taking up some of the traffic related to Black Friday, they aren’t reducing sales themselves. This retail holiday can boost your business both online and in person.

Amazon, favorite clothing retailer

What Our Emotion Sensor® Says

Now that we’ve discussed the background behind Black Friday online, let’s go over what Emojot’s very own state-of-the-art Emotion Sensor® uncovered. We found that 34.7 percent of emoters plan to shop in store, 19.4 percent online, and 45.9 percent both, confirming that Black Friday is going strong in all formats.

The top online clothing retailer amongst our emoters was Amazon, garnering 49.6 percent naming it their favorite, followed by the other category, with 27.8 percent.

Click on the link to get access to see the full “Store Versus Screen: Black Friday in the Twenty-First Century” infographic.

Learn Even More About Black Friday For Your Business

While these insights are sure to help you enhance your endeavors, you can learn even more about how customers feel about Black Friday for your business specifically with one of our voice of customer Emotion Sensors®. Contact us today to find out more at