What You Should Know About Black Friday Logistics


The Black Friday Breakdown

The National Retail Federation (NRF) predicts that 2017 will bring in the largest total spend on Black Friday in history—a whopping $682.0 billion. This number breaks down to an average of $967.13 per shopper. Many are hoping to score huge deals on items like TVs, tablets, and appliances, in time to gift them for the upcoming holidays.
To support the growing spend and revenue of Black Friday, retailers are hiring seasonal workers in the hundreds of thousands. The NRF reports that stores will hire between 500,000 and 550,000 workers for the 2017 holiday season.

Black Friday Data Trends

Surprisingly (or perhaps not), shoppers aren’t waiting until 6 pm on Thanksgiving Day for stores to open to begin shopping. Instead, 59% of mobile shopping searches happen before the stores even open, and continue long after they close (source: Google Data).
Foot traffic on Black Friday peaks in the afternoon, typically between noon and 4 pm. Meanwhile, mobile traffic remains steady throughout the day and peaks in the evening around 8 pm.

Peak foot traffic varies by store type:

  • electronics: 12 pm - 3 pm
  • clothing: 1 pm - 4pm
  • toy: 1 pm - 3 pm

When it comes to deal-seeking, New Englanders rank at the top. They’re both the earliest in-store deal-seekers as well as the biggest deal-seekers on mobile. While the rest of the country lags behind by an hour, more than one-quarter of New England consumers have already step foot inside a department store by 10 am (source: Google Data)

Does it come as any surprise that women typically make their purchases earlier than men? Meanwhile, men wait until the week of Christmas to complete their mobile purchases—still never garnering as much mobile traffic as women. Women are the driving force for the mobile web, as they search for and buy products twice as much as men during the holiday season.

Are Brick-and-Mortar Stores in Danger?

The looming question of each holiday season seems to be the same: Are consumers ditching brick-and mortar stores and turning to their phones to score the best deals instead? The answer is: yes, but not entirely.

While it’s true that many shoppers have gone mobile, they still long for that in-store experience. This is where they’re able to physically touch and actually see the object of their desire. According to Google, 76% of people who search for something on their smartphone still visit a related business within a day. While it’s true that consumers are using their phones to research and browse for purchases, they’re still frequenting physical storefronts.

How Does Black Friday Affect Supply Chains?

It’s no surprise that Black Friday logistics force supply chains to transform the way companies handle the influx of shoppers during the holidays.

  • Predicting demand
    It’s near impossible for companies to predict the exact number of products they will need to meet Black Friday and holiday demand. They strive to have enough inventory to meet demand, without creating an overflow of product that will need to be reduced in price to sell.

  • Returned product
    Towards the end of January there is a high volume of returned product as people look to exchange or return products they received as gifts. Many companies handle this increase in shipping by outsourcing through a 3PL to handle their reverse logistics.

  • Finding a balance
    During the holidays in particular, companies look to find a balance between providing customer satisfaction and great deals, while also maintaining profitability. Finding a happy medium keeps both the company and the consumers happy.

How Does Freightcenter Fit into Your Holiday Shipping Plan?

If you’re an online retailer you may find it difficult to compete with e-commerce giants like Amazon, Zappos, and more—all offering free shipping and free returns. It’s an incentive most small online businesses can’t offer because they don’t have a way to include it in the cost of their product. By consolidating all your shipping using FreightCenter’s parcel services, we can make it easier for e-tailers to offer free shipping and have a leg up on the competition. 

Need to get your reverse logistics in check for Black Friday? Call us today at (800) 716-7608.