Super Saturday, not Black Friday, is when the real money is spent

Black Friday, now almost four weeks past, was a wildly successful day for most retailers.
Black Friday, now almost four weeks past, was a wildly successful day for most retailers.PHOTO: AFP/GETTY IMAGES

NEW YORK (BLOOMBERG) - Waiting until the weekend to do your holiday shopping? You're not alone: This coming Saturday may be the biggest spending day of the year.

Although Black Friday used to be America's biggest single shopping day, the final Saturday before Christmas took the title four or five years ago as more retailers began their Black Friday sales on Thanksgiving Day - or weeks before, said Craig Johnson, president of Customer Growth Partners.

US shoppers will spend an estimated US$26 billion on Dec 22, beating the US$24 billion they shelled out on the day after Thanksgiving, the industry researcher said.

"Black Friday is not quite the epic event it used to be," Johnson said in an interview. As holiday sales inch earlier, demand gets "pulled forward from Black Friday proper".

Black Friday, now almost four weeks past, was still a wildly successful day for most retailers.

With America sporting a growing economy, low fuel prices and rising wages, consumers spent big on the unofficial holiday.

More than 165 million US consumers shopped during the five-day Thanksgiving weekend, according to the National Retail Federation, spending US$7.9 billion online on Cyber Monday alone, Adobe Analytics said.

The buying surge helped boost retail-sales figures from the Commerce Department 0.2 per cent in November, topping forecasts.

SUPER SATURDAY

On a single-day basis, however, this coming Saturday - dubbed "Super Saturday" in some retail circles - will be even bigger.

According to the International Council of Shopping Centres, 44 per cent of US adults plan to shop for holiday presents or related items on Saturday, spending an average of US$173 in-store and online. That's up from the 38 per cent who shopped on Super Saturday last year.

 

Part of that is because confident customers are spending more in total this season, but it's also due to where Christmas falls on the calendar.

With Dec 25 landing on a Tuesday, there are two full travel days between Saturday and the official holiday, rather than the one travel day last year's Monday Christmas offered. That gives procrastinating shoppers all day Saturday to spend before packing their bags for Sunday or Monday departures.

"If Super Saturday occurs and Christmas is Sunday, then it slows it down. It's hard to buy gifts when you're on an airplane," Customer Growth Partners's Johnson said. "The classic weekend is perfectly situated for all these procrastinators."

TIFFANY BLUE

Luxury brands, like Tiffany & Co and Prada SpA, will get an outsized share of that spending, Johnson said. That's partially because a big charge made on Dec 22 won't appear until a January credit card statement, meaning it could be paid for with year-end bonuses arriving in early 2019.

Late shoppers also tend to skew more male than traditional shoppers, though with 75 per cent of overall shopping done by women, plenty of female customers will also be making Super Saturday runs, Johnson said.

More than 40 per cent of people shopping this coming weekend still plan to go into physical stores, ICSC said, even though some online orders placed on Saturday could still arrive by Christmas Eve.

But for those 24 per cent of adult shoppers who ICSC says will do some shopping on Dec 24, rest assured: Companies are ready to sell every last stocking stuffer.

Target Corp, which will keep all stores open on Christmas Eve from 7am to 10pm, will let shoppers who order online before 6pm on Dec 24 pick up in stores until closing time.

And what if Dec 25 rolls around and you've still forgotten to shop? Starbucks Corp says it has you covered: Many of its locations will be open on Christmas Day and selling mugs, coffee beans and gift cards to those last-minute shoppers truly cutting it close.