As Americans Increasingly Bypass Malls, What's To Become Of Black Friday?
MICHEL MARTIN, HOST:
Now I'm not trying to be in your business, but did you decide to sleep through yesterday's predawn shopping sales known as door-busters? If you did, it turns out you were not alone. Increasingly, shoppers are bypassing malls and big-box stores on America's seminal shopping holiday. To find out more about this, we called Shelly Banjo. She is a retail and consumer columnist for Bloomberg, the financial news outlet. She actually writes for Bloomberg's new commentary website called Bloomberg Gadfly. Welcome, Shelly, thanks for coming.
SHELLY BANJO: Thanks for having me.
MARTIN: Now, we've always been told that the holiday season is absolutely critical - as much as 40 percent of a retailer's sales each year, according to the National Retail Federation. And historically, we've been told that Black Friday weekend used to be as much as 15 percent of holiday sales. Is that still the case?
BANJO: I think the 40 percent number can definitely still be the case depending on which kind of retailer it is. But what we're seeing is that one day - that one, you know, you have to get out there and shop on that one day - has just really become the whole month. So it's gone from Black Friday to Black Friday week to Black November.
MARTIN: Black November - so what have you heard about the 2015 holiday shopping season so far?
BANJO: So we don't have numbers for the whole ecosystem yet. But for online sales, they've come in pretty strong. Mobile sales have gone up a lot. But we're seeing a lot of people, who, you know, have signed online, clicked on things in their email and actually did go shopping.
MARTIN: What do you expect, generally, for this year? Are there any trends that are emerging so far?
BANJO: I think mobile is pretty interesting. I mean, people have been talking about it for a while. But this idea that you're at home on Thanksgiving Day with your family and you also happen to have your iPhone on your lap and you're shopping at the same time.
MARTIN: You wrote this past week that retailers should actually consider holding some of their inventory for the days leading up to Christmas. Now, why is that?
BANJO: Because the retailers put so much emphasis on Black Friday and, you know, you get your whole staff together and they're all ready and everyone's excited and the stores look good. But that's not really when the brick-and-mortar retailers are really going to win. They don't have any kind of advantage over Amazon on Black Friday. When they really have the advantage is that week - those last minute shoppers before Christmas who are going out to Wal-Mart, they need to get those stocking stuffers. That's when these retailers can really win. But that's when you show up, people are tired, the stores look all tuckered out, inventories picked over. You know, that's when people really need to rely on those brick-and-mortar stores.
MARTIN: Shelly, you know I'm going to ask this - is there a hot toy?
BANJO: "Star Wars," that's the toy of the season. It's all about "Star Wars." And things are already sold out, according to some folks online. But I have a guess they're going to kind of keep rolling those out, you know, as we go through the holiday season.
MARTIN: Anything "Star Wars."
MARTIN: "Star Wars" PJs?
BANJO: And "Frozen" - people are still into "Frozen."
MARTIN: Still into "Frozen," OK. (Laughter). That's Shelly Banjo. She's a retail and consumer columnist for Bloomberg's new commentary website called Gadfly. And she was with us from New York. Thanks, Shelly.
BANJO: Thank you. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.