Move Over, Black Friday

As the holiday shopping season shifts into high gear and consumers prepare to scout the best deals both in-store and online, retailers will see how shoppers take sides this year in the continued tug-o-war between physical retail and e-commerce.

As retailers ready their promotional strategy for the fall/winter shopping surge, Nielsen and Accenture offer the latest trends regarding where -- and how -- consumers plan to spend their dollars.

In accordance with the move from brick-and-mortar, Nielsen projects that 85 percent of consumers will skip Black Friday, part of a four-year downward trend, and 50 percent will instead take advantage of Cyber Monday deals online, a 16-point increase from 2012. Likewise, 51 percent say they will do their Black Friday shopping online, signaling a possible integration between the Friday and Monday holiday shopping occasions.

Additionally, in an effort to gain a competitive edge, many retailers plan to kick off the holiday shopping season on Thanksgiving Day this year, and more than one third of consumers -- 38 percent, in fact -- plan to take advantage, so finds Accenture’s Holiday Shopping Survey.

According to Chris Donnelly, global managing director of Accenture’s Retail practice, “consumers voted with their feet on the subject of Thanksgiving Day shopping in 2012, and we expect to see even more stores throwing the doors open before midnight on Thanksgiving Day this year.”

Of those shoppers planning to hit the stores on Thanksgiving, however, 41 percent said they will begin between 6 p.m. Thanksgiving Day and 5 a.m. on Black Friday, the more traditional start of the holiday shopping season.

And it looks like brick-and-mortar will edge out online shopping for those who plan to start a day early, as 28 percent of consumers who begin on Thanksgiving will do so at a store, compared to 26 percent who will take to the Internet.

On a positive note, Nielsen expects a marginally stronger holiday shopping season this year compared to last, regardless of where and how shoppers spend their money, with U.S. consumer sentiment at its highest point in five years -- a 98 on the Nielsen Consumer Confidence Index.

“Increasingly shoppers want to shop at their favorite stores, whenever they want and however they want,” concluded Donnelly, “and retailers have to decide how they are going to respond to this demand.”

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