Black Friday Re-Imagined

November 2, 2020
Black Friday Re-Imagined

Has Black Friday been upstaged by a new October shopping day?

Retailers are looking for ways to drum up demand.  They are also seeking creative capacity alternatives to fill it and distribution channels to get merchandise delivered in a timely way.

Some retailers envision encouraging more online shopping with Black Friday deals available online instead of only in-store to cater to shoppers still leery of big crowds and pandemic concerns.  Others plan to take it a step further with a new holiday, dubbed “10.10 Shopping Festival,” invented by those who want to shift sales even earlier than usual, in this case to October 10.

The 10.10 shopping day occurred a few days prior to Amazon’s Prime Day on October 13 and 14, which was expected to reach $10 billion in sales, up 40% over July 2019’s Prime Day.


Video Spotlight: 


This post is based on the Fox Business article, Black Friday 2020: Coronavirus pandemic shopping trends force retailers to rethink holiday shopping, by Michael Bartiromo, September 28, 2020; the Fortune article, Amazon Prime Day expected to hit nearly $10 billion in a big jolt to retailers’ holiday shopping plans, by Phil Wahba, October 12, 2020; and the YouTube video in the Spotlight. Image source: Paul Maguire/Shutterstock

Discussion Questions:

1. What are some of the key operational concerns this holiday season?

Guidance: A variety of issues exist, including ensuring sufficient demand (in light of this year’s staggering unemployment figures), sufficient supply (considering how challenging it has been to keep certain items in stock), and sufficient distribution channels (as last-mile delivery options were bearing a heavy load even before the pandemic hit).

2. What steps are being taken to ensure sufficient demand and supply?

Guidance: Aggregate planning involves looking ahead two to 18 months into the future and developing strategies to match demand and capacity.  Retailers are trying to entice consumers in part by making sure their levels of inventory are in line with forecasts for holiday demand.  Thus, they are stocking up not only on traditional Black Friday buys like electronics and appliances, but pandemic favorites like the backyard barbecue, home fitness, and athleisure apparel segments.

Part of aggregate planning is also looking at how to shift demand to less busy periods.  Thus, some retailers, working in conjunction with Coresight Research, are looking to model a new American shopping day on China’s Singles Day, November 11 (11/11). Singles Day is the single biggest shopping day in the world.  Retailers in the United States have branded theirs 10.10, for October 10, hoping to encourage earlier shopping, extend the season, better manage demand, and have a way to deliver all the things that customers want to buy.

3. How will distribution channels be affected this holiday season?

Guidance: Last-mile delivery options were already running short before the pandemic.  With more people than ever forecast to do their holiday shopping online, retailers are bracing for the challenges ahead, doing their best to avoid late deliveries and disappointed consumers.  If they can move shopping earlier into October, it will help some.

Other challenges posed by last minute shoppers wanting curbside pickup are also expected in December.  These challenges may be harder for mall retailers to manage than stand alone stores, like Walmart and Target.

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