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07/13/2021

Survey predicts earlier holiday shopping season; Black Friday ‘outdated’

Marianne Wilson
Editor-in-Chief
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Shoppers are poised to get a jump start on holiday shopping this year.

Thirty-four percent of consumers intend to start holiday shopping by Labor Day, according to a survey by digital experience management software company Sitecore, and 53% of marketers have planned campaigns to start earlier this year than last.  Fifty-three percent also added more domestic or local suppliers to mitigate supply chain challenges. 

The survey also found that only 60% of brands plan a Black Friday promotion, down 17% from last year. Eighty-five percent of marketers are using the pandemic to “reset” Black Friday sales practices — 80% feel that Black Friday has become outdated and associated negatively with consumer culture. Nearly all (76%) will limit Black Friday promotions to the lone weekend on the calendar, out of fear of devaluing their brand and reducing consumer spend all year long. 

Of marketers with a brick-and-mortar presence, 60% plan to make it making it an experiential destination this year. Forty-nine percent 49% feel the 2021 holiday season is the last chance to prove the value of their store. 

The survey also found that marketers will embrace new ways to boost customer engagement this holiday season. Nearly all (91%) said they are likely to enhance VR/AI offerings by year's end. Seventy-four percent plan to introduce a subscription content program to boost customer engagement.  With third-party cookies phasing out, 51% of marketers are increasing the value of discounts and other services offered to consumers in exchange for their data. 

 “With attitudes around big events like Black Friday changing, the industry now needs to move quickly to connect with their most loyal customers as they plan to begin holiday shopping much earlier this year,” said Sitecore CMO Paige O’Neil. “The right technology should showcase those promotions that will incentivize early holiday spending and get customers excited to engage with the brand and their products. This holiday season will be a make-or-break moment for many – so planning for it well ahead of time is critical

Other findings from the survey are below. 

Nearly all marketers (91%) are optimistic of a revenue boost this holiday season. 

Nearly all marketers (95%) are concerned with changing health conditions/regulations impacting holiday performance. 

•93% of marketers are concerned about inflation having an impact.

•78% of marketers say Cyber Monday is no longer "a thing" for their business.