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Heading into the peak of the holiday shopping season, Amazon is continuing this year's theme of early holiday deals.
The news: The ecommerce giant is set to hold a 48-hour Black Friday sale event. Deals will kick off Nov. 24, which is Thanksgiving, and run through Friday, Nov. 25.
- Millions of deals will be available at a variety of price points. The company listed brands including Moroccanoil, Peter Thomas Roth, Drybar hair care products and De'Longhi Espresso Machines.
- Deals will be available through amazon.com/blackfriday, on the Amazon shopping app, or by asking, “Alexa, what are my deals?”
- Surprise deals will drop every 30 minutes during some periods of the two-day event.
- Early deals, including Deal of the Day, will also be available in the days leading up to the event.
A few takeaways:
Black Friday emphasizes price. A Black Friday sale usually brings discounts, but value and bundling is especially important this year. At a time of elevated inflation, consumers are looking to save money. It was true of Prime Day, and it’s true of the holidays, as well. Amazon specifically called attention to curated lists it has prepared, such as stocking stuffers under $10, gifts for teens under $25 and electronics under $100. Amazon is also offering Prime members the ability to save 25% when they spend $50 on select everyday essentials from Amazon brands through the Stock Up & Save program. This is designed to help prepare for holiday events.
Bucking the Thanksgiving closures trend. From Apple to Walmart, many retailers with physical locations have announced they will be closing their stores for Thanksgiving. But Amazon is sticking with its theme of starting early, and getting Black Friday underway even as turkeys are still in the oven. It comes after Amazon held its first-ever Prime Early Access Sale in October, which was positioned as a holiday kickoff in itself. The Holiday Beauty Haul followed in late October and early November.
Pressure to deliver: The early events underscore how ecommerce can provide flexibility to shoppers, and create multiple moments to deliver holiday deals, as opposed to focusing on a Black Friday doorbuster. But they also come as Amazon faces a more difficult retail environment that is arriving this holiday season with inflation and costs high. The company slashed its revenue outlook for the fourth quarter in its most recent earnings report, with CFO Brian Olsavsky saying the company sees a “slower growth period” on the horizon. The company has also been tightening its belt, and its share price has dropping. It could soon join the ranks of tech companies and retailers making layoffs. On Monday, the New York Times reported that it plans to let go of about 10,000 workers, including many in the retail division, as soon as this week. It all comes as talk of a recession in 2023 continues to loom.“We're very optimistic about the holiday, but we're realistic that there's various factors weighing on people's wallets, and we're not quite sure how strong holiday spending will be versus last year,” Olsavsky told analysts in October. “And we're ready for a variety of outcomes. But we know the consumers when they're looking for good deals, and that positions us well.”
Trending in Shopper Experience
Plus, check out peak holiday shopping weekend results shared by Klaviyo, Wayfair and Ace Hardware.
At Amazon, 2022 delivered the "biggest ever" Thanksgiving weekend to date.
ustomers purchased a record number of products from Thanksgiving through Cyber Monday, the company said in a news release Wednesday. Amazon did not disclose sales figures, while sharing that “hundreds of millions” of products were purchased.
"This was a record-breaking holiday shopping weekend for Amazon,” said Doug Herrington, Amazon’s CEO of Worldwide Stores, in a statement. “Customers shopped millions of deals this weekend and we have many more amazing deals to come.”
It came as record sales and traffic were reported for US ecommerce as a whole during the peak shopping weekend.
Despite the growth, Amazon is still expressing a cautious approach that led it to forecast more tepid sales growth over 2021 for the all-important holiday quarter. According to Bloomberg, CEO Andy Jassy said Wednesday that inflation is leading shoppers to seek deals.
“Consumers are spending, but they’re being careful about trying to stretch their dollar,” Jassy said at the New York Times DealBook conference.
This year, Amazon sought to get an early jump on the shopping holidays to reach bargain hunters. It began Black Friday deals on Thanksgiving, as many shoppers turned to their phones after dinner. For Cyber Monday, deals started on Saturday.
Over the Turkey 5, the best-selling categories were home, fashion, toys, beauty and Amazon devices. Electronics including Echo Dot, Fire TV Stick, and Apple AirPods were the best-selling items. Other top sellers included Hasbro Gaming Connect 4, Burt’s Bees Christmas gifts, apparel from Champion, apparel and shoes from New Balance, the Amazon smart plug, Echo Show and Nintendo Switch.
Amazon said that more than $1 billion in sales were generated for US small businesses through the weekend. This includes third-party sellers that offer goods on Amazon’s marketplace and access its logistics services through Fulfillment by Amazon (FBA).
“If the news of Amazon having the best Black Friday weekend in company history is any clue, it was historic for 3P sellers in many ways,” said Jon Elder, who consults with Amazon sellers as founder and CEO of Black Label Advisor.
Elder said that the vast majority of FBA sellers experienced “tremendous” year-over-year growth through the weekend.
“Sellers noticed that customers were hungry for deals like never before and coupons played especially well,” Elder said. “Some sellers opted to not sign up for deals and still experienced historic traffic and sales.”
Sellers also ramped up PPC, or pay-per-click, in which brands and sellers access sponsored product space to appear in prominent positions on the highly-trafficked marketplace.
“With inflation on the rise, it was more important than ever to increase brand awareness through PPC ads, including video ads. Expect to see brands make this a ‘best practice’ going forward,” Elder said.
Despite all the sales ringing up, Black Friday did bring one curve ball, as a glitch in Amazon’s ad tools led to inaccurate reporting of spend that misled brands and advertisers. According to Business Insider, the sitewide reporting error caused agencies and other ad buyers to either overspend, or miss out on sales as a result of underspending. While a spokesperson said the issue was fixed, it caused a state of confusion on retail’s most important day of the year, as many were forced to wait for a fix.
Nevertheless, the weekend's overall results serve as a reminder that the Thanksgiving shopping period remains the largest weekend of the year for ecommerce, even as Amazon has introduced Prime Day and this year’s early October holiday kickoff event, which it dubbed Prime Early Access Sale.
The Prime sale events are “unique to the Amazon ecosystem, but many Americans simply don’t show up for those events as much because of the time of the year," Elder said.
"Black Friday weekend remains king and the numbers prove that."
Here are a few more key data points over the Black Friday-Cyber Monday weekend that were shared this week:
Klaviyo: 46% growth in SMS/email-attributed revenue
How many sales do the volumes of messages being sent by brands account for? One of the largest platforms is offering hard numbers. Klaviyo, which serves direct-to-consumer businesses, said revenue attributed to its SMS and email marketing messages reached $2.2 billion during Black Friday-Cyber Monday. That represents a 46% increase in dollars over 2021, while total order count reached 34% year-over-year. The growth was even more staggering in SMS-attributed sales alone, which grew 200% in dollars and $190 in order count.
Black Friday was the highest day for message sends, but Cyber Monday closed the gap from 2021, with 47% growth.
This came after businesses using the platform sent a combined 10.7 billion emails and text messages—up 41% from 2021.
While Klaviyo’s growth is likely a factor, it’s a fair bet that a shift toward owned marketing channels following Apple’s App Tracking Transparency played a role in this growth.
Home goods for the holidays
A pair of retailers in the furniture and home improvement categories released sales results showing growth.
Wayfair, the furniture home goods marketplace, reported a “low single digit sales increase” over 2021 for Thanksgiving weekend. Over the five days, 73% of the orders were from repeat customers, while “hundreds of thousands” of new customers ordered from Wayfair for the first time. Wayfair said its revenue strengthened following an early November earnings call, in which the company shared its revenue was down 10% quarter-to-date.
Ace Hardware, meanwhile, may known for its local stores, but ecommerce was the focus of its holiday update. Black Friday brought a record online sales day for the home improvement and tools retailer, posting 45% growth over 2021. Cyber Monday also saw a year-over-year jump of 33%. Ace said demand spiked for grills and smokers, electric mowers and snow blowers, while power tools also remained a popular category. In all, Ace saw a 33% increase in ecommerce sales over 2021 during the five-day weekend.
Ace sells through its ecommerce site, but its omnichannel model remains heavily linked to its neighborhood-level stores. The company said that 90% of online orders are either picked up in store, at curbside or delivered by store associates.
“Our continuous investments in the digital and omnichannel shopping experience make it easy for customers to shop Ace any way they prefer," said Bill Kiss, head of digital at Ace Hardware, in a statement.