How US retailers are gearing up for Black Friday

Date : 19 November 2018

We look at the strategies of some of the major US retailers, for who Black Friday is a major event and a kick-off to the critical holiday season.

Sales impact spread across five-day weekend

Although Black Friday is the traditional key shopping day in the US, with many retailers opening their doors a day earlier on Thanksgiving Day and launching pre-Black Friday deals, this has become a multi-day event. The growth and development of the online channel, along with dedicated events such as Cyber Monday and Green Monday, have also shifted impact of Black Friday itself. The National Retail Federation estimates that 164m consumers plan to shop over the five-day Thanksgiving weekend, with Black Friday being the busiest day with 71% planning to shop.

General merchandise focused event

While grocery retailers are mainly focused on the Thanksgiving meal opportunity, Black Friday events are typically centred on general merchandise product categories, with toys, TVs, computers and mobile phones being at the heart of many retailers’ plans. Toys is a major focus this year, following the exit of Toys R US. All the major retailers, including Walmart, Target and Amazon have extended their ranges and bought more inventory. Walmart and Target have also increased the amount of space dedicated to the category in-store. Kroger has also added ‘Geoffrey’s Toy Box’ to nearly 600 stores for the holiday season, offering a selection of toys which were once exclusive to Toys R Us.

Source: Kroger

Creating an in-store party atmosphere

One of the new ways that Walmart is aiming to drive traffic to its stores this year is with a “Light Up Black Friday” party for customers. Running from 4pm to 6pm on Thanksgiving Day, before shopping officially starts of 6pm, this will be a large-scale sampling party, with the retailer giving away an estimated four million cups of coffee and two million Christmas cookies. Walmart will also be looking to make the in-store shopper journey as easy as possible. The store map feature within the Walmart app will transition to a Black Friday version, while ‘Check Out with Me’ associates will be positioned around the store.

Source: Walmart

Exclusive deals for loyalty card holders

Target has already been active on the promotional front, offering a series of deals since the start of the month. However, it is making several promotions available exclusively for REDcard holders this week, who will also receive an additional 5% saving as part of the loyalty programme. The retailer is also locating team members across the store who can take payment from customers, enabling them to skip traditional checkouts.

Activating across the Amazon ecosystem

At Amazon, the aim is to bring-to-life its entire ecosystem across the promotional period. In addition to deep price discounts at, it will also be showcasing its devices at Amazon Pop-Up locations, offering savings on food orders through Amazon Restaurants and launching curated holiday gift guides. At Whole Foods Market, it is offering Prime member deals across turkeys and offering a $20 discount for new Prime Members. Prime member turkey pricing was one of the first deals introduced by the retailer last year following its acquisition by Amazon.

Source: IGD Research

Thanksgiving dinner meal solutions

At most grocer retailers, Thanksgiving meal essentials are the primary focus. While turkey pricing is used as a footfall driver, most retailers are also supporting with price-led initiatives for side dishes and desserts. Full Thanksgiving dinners are also available for delivery or pickup from several retailers. Websites are also used for providing recipe ideas and preparation guides. From Thanksgiving, these will transition into holiday-led campaigns, with a focus on baking, hosting and entertaining.

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