Editors' pick: Originally published Nov. 25.
The turkeys aren't even defrosted yet, and already the post-Thanksgiving sales stories are hitting the headlines. On Wednesday, Target (TGT) announced that it is following rival Wal-Mart's in scheduling Cyber Monday earlier this year.
Black Friday, the day after Thanksgiving, for decades has been the biggest shopping day of the year. Retailers compete to offer deeper discounts on practically everything. And even countries beyond the U.S., which don't celebrate November's Thanksgiving, have taken on Black Friday observance. It's a time when the retailers rake in the bulk of their profits.
Of course, the news has been littered with stories of bricks-and-mortar stores opening earlier every year to compete for Black Friday bucks. Referred to as "Black Friday creep," this phenomenon recently garnered Macy's some unfavorable headlines as the company announced this year that it would be open on Thanksgiving Day itself.
However, there's another component to this shopping holiday frenzy. In 2005, the National Retail Federation established a companion to bricks-and-mortar's Black Friday: Cyber Monday. This made-up holiday was created to encourage shoppers to purchase goods from e-commerce sites once they had returned to their offices after the holiday weekend and had access high-speed internet.
Of course, with the overwhelming popularity of mobile devices, practically everyone in the Western world has high-speed internet at their fingertips at all hours of the day. And that's worked in Amazon's favor, as the e-commerce giant has brought 24/7 shopping convenience to the world.
The rise of Amazon has created a noticeable dent in the bricks-and-mortar retail industry. So much so that many stores have been forced to make improvements when it comes to online shopping.
Walmart, in particular, has followed this course, spending millions on reinforcing its e-commerce arm. This has proven successful for the company and its investors.
Target has always lagged behind Walmart when it comes to online sales. But it has copied many of the mega-retailer's moves. And now Target has announced it is falling victim to "Cyber Monday creep."
The bull's-eye retailer will be offering its deep Cyber Monday discounts on Sunday, rather than waiting a day. And the company has also announced it will be offering 15% off everything both online and in store on Sunday and Monday.
"I predict we'll start to see more and more retailers merge their online stores' strategies and promotions," said Target CIO Mike McNamara. "In this case, that means bringing online events like Cyber Monday into physical stores."
How this expanded Cyber Monday works out for Target remains to be seen. Last year, a few glitches in the technical system shut down the website for some users.
Walmart, on the other hand, offers investors better opportunities at post-Thanksgiving sales. Not only does the company start its Cyber Monday promotions on Friday, but the deals will continue for a week.
When it comes to competing with Amazon and other e-commerce retailers, availability is crucial. Although Target is attempting to catch up with Walmart, the latter company has six more shopping days built into its online sale.
Continue to look at Walmart as a long-term play on changing trends in retail.
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