As we look at regular sales trends, holiday sales trends, and Christmas shopping trends, we have to be able to separate the hard trends (things we know will happen) versus the soft trends (the things that might happen).
Did we set a record in sales on cyber Monday? That’s a soft trend. It looks good. There’s a lot of pent-up demand from the last several years, people were being very careful about how much they were spending. They will still be careful, but I think they’re feeling a little more optimistic. So, it’s likely that they’ll spend more, but that is a soft trend.
What is a hard trend? Something we do know is that technology will be used more and more to make purchases every month and every year.
This year, once again, a new record in the number of people that are purchasing online will be set. The number of people that are using Smartphones to do their shopping and their comparison shopping, using apps that they can scan a barcode and get the information not only on the product and the sales price, but also instantly compare it with nearby physical stores as well as online stores, to make sure they’re getting the best price, so they can make a decision on the moment.
We’re going to see shoppers increasingly pulling out their Smartphones, doing scans, checking out deals, and making purchase decisions. Those purchase decisions will not be based on what’s in the store, but what’s on their phone, and then the decision, “Do I want to buy in the store or do I want to buy right now, from the phone? Because I found what I like and now I’m going to purchase it.”
What is happening now, is that the retail stores are becoming a place to find and preview products, because people can see the actual product. But will the customer buy them there, just because they are there? In the past, the answer was yes, but now, today, it’s “Not necessarily. I got a much better price. I’m going to buy it somewhere else. But I’m making my purchase decision in the store.”
The shift here is that the purchase decision is in the store, but not necessarily to buy what’s in front of them in the store. This is a significant shift that can have an impact on retailers this year.
Did we have more people than ever participating in Cyber Monday? The answer is yes. Did we set sales records? Well, it would seem so, but that’s a soft trend.
Will this holiday season be better than last year and the year before? Again, that’s a soft trend.