Last Call for Pre-Black Friday Predictions

Nov 21, 2006 11:19 PM  By

The day after Thanksgiving may not really be the busiest retail day of the holiday season (more on that in a minute), but the Monday and Tuesday before Thanksgiving are undoubtedly the busiest days for press releases regarding retail during the holiday season.

MasterCard Worldwide, for instance, issued a release on Monday refuting the belief that Black Friday is the busiest shopping day of the year. Based on payment-card transaction information, MasterCard reports that last year Black Friday wasn’t even one of the top five business holiday shopping days. Instead, it predicts that the day before Christmas Eve—Saturday, Dec. 23—will be the busiest shopping day.

MasterCard is also predicting that the first Monday in December will be the busiest day in terms of online shopping, as had Web marketing services provider Coremetrics several weeks ago ( “And the Biggest Day for Web Sales Will Be…”). But CyberSource Corp., a provider of electronic payment and risk management solutions, expects Dec. 18 to be the most active day for holiday shopping online.

“A rule of thumb has emerged about holiday peak [online] shopping days,” Doug Schwegman, CyberSource director of market and customer intelligence, said in a statement. “They typically happen on the Monday occurring closest to Christmas where there is at least a week available for shipping.”

Among the more than 1,000 adults with Web access surveyed by Vendio, a provider of comparison shopping tools, 78% said they planned to do at least some of their holiday shopping online. That’s consistent with the results of a survey by AOL Shopping/Zogby, in which 80% of the 37,199 adults polled said they’d buy at least some gifts online this season.

Twenty-three percent of the Vendio respondents said they expected to conduct more than half of their holiday shopping online, as did 24% of the AOL Shopping participants.

According to the Vendio survey, more people will be cybershopping from home than from the office. Whereas 22% said they’d be shopping online between 9 a.m. and 7 p.m., 42% planned to be buying online between 7 p.m. and 9 p.m. Even more—43%–expected to be shopping online between 9 p.m. and midnight.

These shoppers also said they prefer well-known Websites over lesser-known merchants. More than half (56%) said they planned to buy from larger, more-established Websites even if their prices are higher than those of lesser-known sites. Nearly as many Web shoppers—54%–expected to shop from online discounters such as eBay, Overstock.com, and Half.com.

In fact, money isn’t the key driver of online holiday shopping, according to the AOL Shopping survey. When asked why they shop online during the holiday season, 58% said it was to save time; 32% said they appreciated “the ease of comparison shopping.” Twenty-nine percent said they found items online that weren’t available in local stores, while 24% cited free shipping.