This year’s Black Friday demonstrated some significant cultural changes to the 120-year-old holiday. With reduced early morning shopping and dramatically increased online shopping, the traditions of the famous holiday aren’t proving static.

Going into the Thanksgiving holiday, Black Friday sales figures were looking uncertain due to a number national circumstances. Trade uncertainty is one of the biggest reasons economists were unsure if the holiday would be as lucrative as 2018. Additionally, consumer confidence shrunk slowly over the early months of 2019 and finally plummeted in September. Would Americans have the financial courage to spend liberally? With a possible recession in the cards for 2020, should they?

Nevertheless, U.S. consumers persisted. Black Friday sales skyrocketed once again this year and new shopping trends have become highly apparent. Despite the ease of digital transactions, a quarter of consumers were willing to travel over 25 miles for in-store discounts. According to Fiserv, Brick and Mortar sales were up 4.2% from last year. 

The increased willingness to shop in-store did not, however, leave a dent in online shopping figures. Adobe reported that consumers spent $7.4 billion online shopping on Friday. That's up 22.3% from Black Friday last year. Purchases made from the comfort of consumers' homes might explain why those infamous midnight shopping trips have lost popularity. Salesforce reports that under 10% of digital purchases were made as before 7AM on Black Friday. Some  shoppers in  Las Vegas reported empty malls at 5AM. This suggests door busters and door-busting lines could soon be a thing of the past.

But what caused shoppers to spend confidently despite economic worries? Was it the nation's currently low unemployment rate? Or could it have been retailers' savvy ability to offer competitive prices despite an escalating trade war

Trends suggest that improved consumer experience might have had something to do with it. User-friendly apps and mobile websites hosted 36 % of online sales. With social feeds teeming with shopping inspiration, many consumers were able to make purchases right there on their smartphones.

Marketers also played a hand. Salesforce recorded a record-high number of emails and SMS promotion messages sent out to promote Black Friday deals.

The IoT has already changed the Black Friday landscape for good. With a more customer-centric shopping experience and serious sales figures, the outcome is looking like a win-win for consumers and companies. The digital takeover might have Black Friday and Cyber Monday looking more and more comparable in the coming years.  
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Siara Singleton

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