It’s official: Black Friday has morphed into Black November as price cutting deals kicked off earlier in the month and with a bigger punch.
Even Cyber Monday blockbusters were posted prior to the busiest online shopping day. According to Adobe, shoppers spent $1.9 billion online Thanksgiving Day and another $3.3 billion on Friday.
That’s not to say shoppers didn’t set their alarms and hit stores on November 25, including those on the hunt for beauty.
More than 154 million consumers shopped in stores and online, about 3 million more than last year, according to a National Retail Federation survey released Nov. 26, the Sunday after Black Friday. Diving deeper, the NRF data shows more than 108 million people shopped online over the weekend, about 5 million more than last year. Meanwhile, 99 million people said they shopped in stores, down 3 million from last year. The numbers, the organization noted, are not mutually exclusive.
But the NRF, which tracks consumer visits and spending data, said those consumers doled out about $10 less on average, or $290 this year compared to nearly $300 in 2015. The association attributed the difference mostly to heavy discounting brought on by a “promotional environment” in stores. About 36 percent of shoppers this year said all of their purchases were on sale, compared to 32.5 percent last year.
The Monday after Thanksgiving hit a new online record for the U.S. with an estimated $3.45 billion spent via e-commerce, a 12.1 percent increase over a year ago and 2.6 percent above predictions from Adobe (measured from 23 billion visits to retail web sites).
So what worked in beauty?
Blazing bargains coupled with hands-on experiences encouraged shoppers to visit beauty departments. Spot checks in Macy’s, Bloomingdale’s, Lord & Taylor, Ulta Beauty, JC Penney in Sephora, freestanding Sephora, Wal-Mart, Target and Blue Mercury revealed bargains still lure traffic. Buzzing at Macy’s were items such as six-piece women’s and men’s fragrance samplers for $15; $5 Little M.A.C Lipglass, Mascara and Pigments, and a $40 Clinique Lash Set discounted to $15. Ulta Beauty offered Tiny Temptations – five beauty items for $5 – that was heavily shopped.
At the other end of the spectrum, consumers dug deep for luxury names ranging from La Mer to Hermes. A beauty consultant at a New Jersey Bloomingdale’s confirmed fragrance sales heat up later in December, but that she had already sold an impressive amount of Missoni and Prada scents. In cosmetics, both the Dior and Lancome counters were heavily shopped across all department stores.
In downtown Princeton, N.J., Blue Mercury brimmed with shoppers snapping up Laura Mercier tinted moisturizers and Chantecaille Mascara priced at $72.
In mass stores, the beauty items attracting shoppers were those once only available in higher end stores, such as masks and illuminators. Target’s Beauty Concierge outpost – which brings top sellers into one display – was sold out of e.l.f.’’s Insta GlamSkin Perfecting Makeup.
The ability to visit a physical store for makeup application, rather than virtual experimentation, was also evident on Black Friday.
From Sephora to Ulta Beauty to Lord & Taylor to Macy’s, makeup chairs were filled with shoppers who wanted hands-on application and education. Indeed, there’s no substitute for the power of human interaction.
And the shopping spree has just begun. The NRF survey found that only 9 percent of consumers are done with holiday purchases, down from 11 percent last year. Nearly a quarter of those surveyed still haven’t done any shopping yet, the data showed.