“Super Saturday” sales shed light on pandemic-era shopping trends
by Paul Davenport Paul Davenport on

Like most things in 2021, it’s been hard to compare this year’s holiday shopping season with historical trends, as the pandemic evolves and continues to put our best laid plans for reengaging in-person with each other to the test.

Ace among America’s social pastimes is holiday shopping, which has remained strong in terms of total sales despite a reported lack of holiday bargains and the continued evolution of pandemic restrictions—not to mention inconsistency across both corporate and government enforcement.

Still, foot traffic on December 18—dubbed “Super Saturday” within the industry for landing on the final weekend before Christmas—was up 19 percent compared to last year, bucking the pandemic-era’s declining holiday shopping trends for in-person shopping, according to data from Sensormatic Solutions.

This comes after in-store shopping on Black Friday 2021 ticked up 47.5 percent in 2021 versus 2020, though totals were still a 28.3 percent off for brick-and-mortar sales compared to pre-Covid shopping in 2019.

“For the last five years, Super Saturday is the second busiest shopping day in the U.S., falling only behind Black Friday,” said Peter McCall, senior manager of retail consulting, Sensormatic Solutions. “There were only three Saturdays in December leading up to Christmas Day this year. As we expected, Super Saturday remains a big part of consumers’ holiday shopping plans to grab last-minute items with supply chain issues delaying the arrival of online orders in time for holiday celebrations.”

Despite a year-over-year jump in shopper traffic for Super Saturday, total spend was still down 26 percent the weekend before Christmas 2021 compared to the same period in 2019.

The data gets even murkier when you take into account larger trends that made 2021 unique when it comes to where, when and how consumers buy for the holidays.

For instance, retailers like Target that are traditionally open on Thanksgiving Day (and are famous for early-morning Black Friday blowouts) were shuttered over the holiday this year, and discouraged the pre-pandemic “midnight rush” that had come to characterize the holiday for many.

As a result, shoppers have been spreading out their purchases, as Black Friday week (along with the first three weeks of December) saw overall foot traffic increases of 14 percent compared to 2020.

As for online shopping, figures are relatively stagnant (if not down a bit) this year, with retailers just missing the $9 billion Black Friday sales record clocked in 2020 by turning up a $8.9 billion total in 2021.

Still, the biggest takeaway for retailers is that one channel for customer interaction and conversion is no longer dominant over the other, as consumers take a multi-channel approach to holiday shopping today that leverages both physical and digital touch points.

With social distancing restrictions making it tougher for shoppers to crowd into stores over the holidays, they’re more likely to do their homework and “window shop” online first, for instance, if not actually complete the purchase digitally and only leverage the physical storefront for pickup.

This is just one example of how retail is increasingly a multichannel operation that calls for greater connectivity between many consumer touchpoints—ie. the webstore, a brick-and-mortar storefront, contact centers—and even internal stakeholders— ie. the warehouse, the data center, the distribution hub—to ultimately serve customers and drive revenue.

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Filed Under: Industry Insights

Tags: christmas , visibility , observability , network performance monitoring , network management , network performance , remote office , branch office , supply chain , fulfillment , online shopping , in person shopping , brick and mortar , ecommerce , retail , shopping , holiday

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