MasterCard survey finds Black Friday not busiest

Filed under: Retail |

Procrastination makes some historically busy holiday shopping days cash in lower than expected, because many people put off their purchases until just before Christmas.

According to a report released by MasterCard Worldwide, Black Friday did not even rank as one of the top five busiest holiday shopping days last year, and consumers are not necessarily shopping online on Cyber Monday.

The day after Thanksgiving was dubbed Black Friday because it traditionally marked the day that retailers were said to finally start making a profit — or go into the black — for the year.

The MasterCard Holiday Shopping Insights report found that 74 percent of consumers think Thanksgiving weekend is the busiest holiday shopping time, and consumers generally believe Black Friday is the busiest day for holiday shopping.

But last year, the day after Thanksgiving was only the sixth busiest day, while Friday, December 23 won the title of busiest shopping day — and based on transaction data, it might be this year as well.

Cyber Monday ranked as the ninth most active online shopping day in terms of transactions processed, while Monday Dec. 5, was the most active day for online shopping during the holiday season, the report said.

Only 10 percent of those surveyed said they will do their online holiday shopping on Cyber Monday.

Other surveys disagree.

According to the Shop.org/Shopzilla eHoliday Mood Study, conducted by BizRate Research, Cyber Monday was the second biggest shopping day of the holiday season last year. (December 12, which was one of the last days that online retailers offered free standard shipping, was first.)

Another Shop.org survey conducted by BIGresearch, found that the number of people who will shop online for holiday gifts from work is expected to surge to 61 million this year, up from 51.7 million people 2005. In fact, more than half of consumers (50.7 percent) with Internet access at work plan to do some holiday shopping online from the office, up from 44.7 percent last year.

Young adults with online access at work are the most likely to shop, with almost three-fourths (71.5 percent) of 18- to 24-year-olds and two-thirds (66.4 percent) of 25- to 34-year-olds planning to browse or buy from the office this holiday season.

While some shoppers are undoubtedly shopping during working hours, employers find most people shopping online during their lunch hours or before and after work.

“Online retailers typically see huge surges in Web site traffic during traditional lunch hours,” said Scott Silverman, executive director of Shop.org.

The National Retail Federation’s Shop.org is getting into the spirit of online shopping with the launch of a new Web site, www.cybermonday.com, which gives shoppers access to various retailers’ planned Cyber Monday promotions.

CyberMonday.com, powered by Mall Networks, was created as a one-stop shop for consumers looking for the best Cyber Monday promotions.

“When consumers started calling us last year asking which retailers were offering Cyber Monday promotions, we decided it was time to provide one central location for shoppers to find the best holiday deals,” Silverman said. “This year, online retailers have come together to create one place where shoppers can find the most enticing Cyber Monday promotions. And not only will people find the best bargains at CyberMonday.com, they will also be supporting a scholarship fund created to help students who are pursuing retail careers.”

When shoppers make a purchase through CyberMonday.com, retailers will provide a percentage of that sale to Shop.org. All of the proceeds from the Web site will be donated to Shop.org’s Ray M. Greenly Scholarship Fund, which helps students pursuing careers in eCommerce.

Greenly was a vice president at Shop.org before passing away from cancer in 2005.

Consumers turning ‘light’

Some diet foods no longer leave a sense of hunger, and they taste better.

Through the years, fat and sugar substitutes like aspartame (NutraSweet) have dramatically improved the taste of diet foods. Innovative processing methods, like beating air into ice cream, have also helped squeeze out the calories while preserving taste.

The sheer variety of lighter options — low-fat, fat-free, reduced fat, no sugar — shows how popular they’ve become. There are even reduced-calorie Oreos.

According to ACNielsen, U.S. supermarket, drug store and discount sales of products labeled low-, no- and reduced-fat reached $32.1 billion for the 12-month period ending Oct. 7, up from $31.7 billion for the same time period in 2002.

Sales of Kraft’s reduced-calorie alternatives are growing faster than their original counterparts, said Elisabeth Lenner, a spokeswoman for Kraft Foods Inc.

Reduced-calorie versions of Cool Whip, for example, now make up 40 percent of the brand’s sales.

The key is making sure lighter versions still taste good. To do that, Kraft’s line of South Beach Diet foods uses reduced-fat cheeses and wheat crusts.

Federated sells bridal group

Shifting focus to its department stores (Bloomingdale’s and Macy’s), Federated Department Stores, is selling its 279 bridal stores and 511 men’s formalwear stores.

The Cincinnati–based retailer will sell David’s Bridal, which operates 269 stores, and Priscilla of Boston, which operates 10 stores, to Los Angeles–based private equity firm Leonard Green & Partners for about $750 million. In a separate deal, Federated will sell the 511-unit After Hours Formalwear chain to Houston–based retailer Men’s Wearhouse for about $100 million.

Joan Johnson covers retail for the Colorado Springs Business Journal.