By Mary Halladay, Industry Principal, Retail

With anticipation (bordering on anxiety), our customers have been planning for Thanksgiving Weekend 2013 since mid-Summer. The reality of Thanksgiving arriving “late” this year, combined with a myriad of rapidly developing omni-channel trends, has led to a higher-than-usual level of uncertainty for retailers around this holiday period. How will the “shortened” shopping season impact consumer behavior and overall holiday results? Will early promotions and store openings on Thanksgiving Day impact YoY comps? How will mobile continue to impact and change consumer behavior? And how should retailers plan for and respond to that behavior? 

While the dust has not completely settled, and as we all try to piece together the answers to the questions posed above, we’ve taken an aggregated look across our North American customer base for the Thanksgiving Weekend (Thursday through Monday), and a few things have stood out as noteworthy.

1. Cyber Monday was the most important day of the early season, accounting for more than 30% of the sales for the five-day period. Based on the data we analyzed, consumers, eager to get started on their lists and most likely motivated by better-than-usual pre-Cyber Monday promotions, jump started the weekend driving higher relative sales on Black Friday versus Cyber Monday.

Source: Demandware

2. The actual weekend days represented a smaller piece of the pie in 2013 compared to 2012 from a sales perspective, even though site activity on those days was still strong. Consumers were clearly researching online and were waiting for those Cyber Monday deals that we’ve all trained them to know and love.

3. It will take more than 5 days of results (even if those are an important 5 days) to understand the trends and patterns. However, it seems clear that, just as consumers do not think in terms of channels, they are also not wedded to “closing the deal” on any particular day. For now, let’s call it a Cyber Season and look forward to a merry one!