How Mission Shopping Is Changing Holiday Retail


The 2013 holiday shopping season has officially begun with numbers rolling in for Thanksgiving Day, Black Friday and Cyber Monday.  Once you weed through all of the reports, the story is quite simple.

Many stores opened on Thanksgiving Day. There’s not a lot of precedence here to compare year-over-year sales on this isolated day but the biggest end result was higher foot traffic for the full weekend. From Thanksgiving through Sunday, foot traffic climbed nearly 3 percent across all retailers. So while less of us shopped specifically on Black Friday, the overall weekend saw more shoppers than last year.

But people didn’t buy as much. Purchases at stores and websites fell 2.9 percent over the Black Friday weekend to end at $57.4 billion. So while more people went shopping the average per-consumer spending figure dropped by 3.9 percent to $407, according to the National Retail Federation.

Bloomberg media called this behavior “Mission Shopping” which is when a consumer buys only one bargain-priced item and then leaves the store. Because retailers are always heavily discounting items it creates the perception that good deals are always available and Black Friday becomes less and less effective at encouraging people to buy beyond one, heavily-discounted item.

“Retailers didn’t get what they wanted from Black Friday and they will need to make it up in the next three weeks. There will be some panic sales.”

– Bloomberg

But give thanks to Cyber Monday where sales rose 16 percent to a record $2.29 billion. Such digital buying created the highest five-day online sales period on record, according to IBM. From Thanksgiving through Cyber Monday online sales were up 16.5 percent over last year. (Mobile devices accounted for 17 percent of Cyber Monday sales.) Online sales forecasts were higher than expected; from Amazon to Wal-Mart, retailers experienced record traffic and online sales.

The National Retail Federation is still predicting a 4 percent rise in Holiday spending over last year. To achieve this retailers are going to have to make up some ground. So watch for promotions and great deals.

And, of course, don’t forget your scratch games!

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Drake Cooper
Drake Cooper
December 6, 20132 min read