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Black Friday: Shoppers return to stores for holidays, some retailers in position to benefit

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Daymon Senior Vice President Aimee Becker joins Yahoo Finance to discusses Black Friday sales, supply chain complications, inflation, and the 2021 holiday retail season.

Video transcript

- For more on how the supply chain is playing out and the start to the holiday shopping season, let's bring in our guest Aimee Becker, Senior Vice President of Daymon. Aimee, thank you so much for your time today. Supposed to be the biggest shopping day of the year so far, right, Cyber Monday-- what do you make of some of the mixed sort of numbers that we've got regarding Thanksgiving sales and Black Friday sales so far.

AIMEE BECKER: You know, shoppers were out early this year and retailers were out to meet them. So we saw Black Friday deals dropping as early as October this year, which is pretty early based on years past. And it really goes back to shoppers have a finite number of dollars to spend, and retailers are competing for them. So getting out early and trying to capture those dollars, and also leveraging the strength that they have against the fears that consumers have that they might not be able to find product.

So consumers went out early this year. And so, you know, we might have had a soft actual Black Friday, but Black Friday in total, if you look at the selling season starting in mid-October, was pretty strong.

ALEXIS CHRISTOFOROUS: I'm curious, if these supply chain disruptions, Aimee, are factoring into consumers' thought process when they go out and shop for the holidays and their buying habits. I mean, are they looking for items that may not be impacted by the bottlenecks?

AIMEE BECKER: Yeah, I think it was-- a lot of the reason that they were out earlier was, you know, those must-have gifts, really wanting to make sure that they were ahead of it. But I do think that a lot of what has been compelling for shoppers this season has been the sales, right? So going back to the finite number of dollars-- and what they're more afraid of is the cost of goods and the cost that they're seeing increasing at shelf.

They're really starting to look at that more closely and really thinking about how that's going to affect their total spend for the holidays. So we saw close to a third of shoppers-- or sorry, 70% of our shoppers telling us that they spent over a third of their budget prior to Thanksgiving this year, so really trying to think about how they're maximizing those dollars and getting those sales where they can has been important.

- And so how crucial is this holiday season for retailers? Because, obviously, they've been hammered because of the pandemic. And who are the ones that will emerge as real winners for this quarter?

AIMEE BECKER: Yeah, well, you know, you always see the same competitors ending up on top-- those who really play across categories. You know, big box retailers tend to win as well as those pure play e-commerce sites. But I think what we're going to see this year is a lot of some of the smaller maybe pure play players in the market really doing well as consumers are looking to do something a little bit different-- so getting out of that price play and really trying to find unique and different gifts for their family and friends.

We actually also in our study found that, you know, consumers are really open to buying private label gifts for their loved ones at record rate. About 86% of shoppers were telling us that they were open to categories such as personal care and apparel for private label gifts. So we think that this opens the door for allowing a lot of these pure play players in the market to really compete with those differentiated gifts that they offer.

ALEXIS CHRISTOFOROUS: And also, I dug into your findings and found that 60% of consumers said they're going to purchase store brands to save money. Does that mean they're purchasing store brands when it comes to gift giving as well?

AIMEE BECKER: Yeah, so it's very interesting-- they told us that they're very open. So you know, you might be open to buying store brands in a traditional grocery store, but they're also recognizing that a lot of these retailers are really creating a point of difference for their shoppers and a reason to shop them by bringing different items to the market than you can find anywhere else. So they like that unique find.

And they really want to be the heroes of Christmas and holidays in bringing something that's different and new to their family and friends. And that's a lot of the way that retailers are competing. Again, if you're competing for Black Friday deals and Black Friday pricing, you're in that price play. But really, where you can bring that unique point of difference to a shopper is really through the products that you bring that no one else can offer.

- And are you surprised to see that there's been more in-person sales this year? And we've seen sort of online sales sag a little bit-- $8.9 billion for Black Friday. That's the first time we've seen a little bit of a decline, according to Adobe Analytics.

AIMEE BECKER: Yeah, I think we were interested to see that as well. But shoppers are telling us that they want to shop both, right? So there's people who are pure play online or pure play brick and mortar, but a lot of shoppers are going the route of both. They really want to make sure that they're finding the best deal and they're getting that experience. And you know, you can't really beat that experience in-store.

Online experience is one thing, but getting into the store, touching physical goods, consumers are still looking for that. So we saw a lot of consumers telling us that they were really interested in continuing to do both.

ALEXIS CHRISTOFOROUS: And finally, how are the discounts this time around? Because we keep hearing about them not being as steep as they were certainly pre-pandemic-- inflation, of course, I think playing a big part of that. And retailers are trying to sort of preserve whatever margin they can. But what have the deals been like so far?

AIMEE BECKER: Yeah, well, going back to the fact that it started so early, I think, you know, retailers did go a little bit lighter on those deep discounts-- but really finding those key items, those key hero items that consumers are looking for that they could provide that value. So across the board, we did see a slight decline in the total discount rate, and I think that's really being driven by the fact that the buying season is that much longer.

But in key items and key categories that consumers are looking for for discounts, retailers came out and delivered. So I would say it's not across categories, but, you know, they still try to find those treasure hunt items that consumers would be looking for and make sure that they're discounting them appropriately.

- One thing we know for sure is that this is a holiday season like no other. And retailers are going to have to be strategic about how they attract those consumers. Thank you so much for your time. We'll leave it there. Aimee Becker, Senior Vice President of Daymon.

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