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Reverse Logistics

Retail Returns: Black Friday, Cyber Monday, and the Hottest Takes on this Year's Holiday Shopping Frenzy

Introduction 

The 2023 Thanksgiving Week shopping season has once again proved to be a pivotal event in the retail calendar, with dynamic sales trends and evolving consumer behaviors. As we delve into the data and insights from this year's shopping frenzy, it's clear that online shopping, discounting strategies, and the impact of inflation have all played significant roles in shaping the holiday shopping landscape. In this article, we'll explore the key statistics and trends that defined the 2023 Thanksgiving Week shopping season.

Online Sales Surge

According to Adobe Analytics, online sales during CyberWeek, including the five days from Thanksgiving to Cyber Monday, witnessed a substantial 7.8% increase compared to the previous year. Cyber Monday alone recorded an impressive $12.4 billion in e-commerce spending, marking a 9.6%year-over-year growth.

 The shift towards online shopping was further evident in the data from the U.S. Department of Commerce, which reported a 7.75% growth in e-commerce during the third quarter of 2023, while total retail (including e-commerce) grew only by 2% year-on-year.

Physical Retail Holds Steady

Despite the growing dominance of online shopping, physical retail stores experienced a 1.5% increase in foot traffic over the Black FridayWeekend. Categories such as health and beauty, jewelry, and apparel saw the highest increases in in-store traffic, as reported by RetailNext. 

However, it's crucial to note that in-store sales growth was modest, with an increase of only 1.1% year-over-year, according to Mastercard Spending pulse. This indicates that while consumers were more willing to visit physical stores, the bulk of their shopping activities took place online. 

Discounting and Inflation's Impact

Discounting played a pivotal role in driving consumer demand during the 2023 Thanksgiving Week shopping season. Retailers offered an average discount of 30%, enticing shoppers with attractive deals. Salesforce data highlighted the significance of these discounts in stimulating spending. 

Nonetheless, the impact of inflation could not be ignored. Statista data, adjusted for inflation, revealed that while retail sales appeared to be up by 12% compared to 2021, they were essentially flat when accounting for the effects of rising prices. This suggests that consumers may have felt a pinch in their purchasing power due to inflationary pressures.

Consumer Behavior and Innovation

The 2023 Thanksgiving Week shopping season once again show cased the evolving nature of consumer behavior. Shoppers demonstrated a preference for online purchases, avoiding crowded stores and opting for the convenience of digital shopping channels. 

One notable trend was the surge in Buy Now, Pay Later (BNPL) usage, which experienced a staggering increase of 42.5% compared to the previous year, according to Adobe Analytics. This reflects a growing interest in alternative payment methods that offer flexibility and convenience to consumers.

Discounting strategies were effective in stimulating demand, although the impact of inflation raised concerns about real purchasing power.Retailers and brands continued to adapt to evolving consumer behaviors, emphasizing innovation and meeting consumers where they preferred to shop—online.

Closing Thought and Retail Returns Impact

The remarkable performance of Cyber Week is set to have a profound impact on retail returns and the industry's outlook in the months to come. Historically, holiday eCommerce returns rates have reached 30%. With online sales surging and consumers flocking to digital platforms, an influx of returns will be inevitable, and retailers should seek to promote buy online, return in-store “BORIS” returns whenever possible. As we reflect on this year’s trends and statistics, it's clear that the holiday shopping landscape continues to evolve, and retailers must remain agile and responsive to the changing preferences and economic conditions of their customers.

 

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