It’s Cyber Monday, and the stakes feel higher after reports of disappointing Thanksgiving weekend sales.
The National Retail Federation estimates retail spending over the weekend dropped for the first time in at least seven years, with spending down 2.7% from a year ago at $57.4 billion.
Keep in mind, these estimates have been wrong in the past. So to get some real-time response from a retailer in the trenches, The Daily Ticker caught up with CEO of online jeweler Blue Nile (NILE), Harvey Kanter.
“We’re hearing that online retail had great results over the last five or six days, and we had really solid results,” he tells us.
This commentary echoes ComScore’s findings, that U.S. online sales rose 17.3 percent on Thanksgiving and Black Friday, outpacing sales growth at brick-and-mortar stores.
“Mobile really accelerated,” he adds. “Our holiday promotions really worked, but the fact of the matter is the next three weeks will be all important. But we are encouraged by what we saw initially.”
In other words, it’s not all about Black Friday – touted as the busiest shopping day of the year – or Cyber Monday. It’s about the season as a whole, which is one reason, perhaps, that the NRF still expects total holiday sales to rise by 3.9% from a year ago. It’s also a reason that retailers are expected to continue to be promotional. Kanter says Blue Nile won’t be more promotional than last year, but they “do respect the fact that the customer is promotion-oriented.”
Blue Nile’s business trends reflect the increasing importance of mobile. Kanter reports mobile represented almost 60 percent of their traffic over the last five days and one-quarter of revenue, which is “really accelerating” for the e-commerce retailer.
This turn to mobile exemplifies a broader trend. IBM's survey of 800 retail websites showed Black Friday sales on mobile devices grew by more than 40% from last year. These sales accounted for more than one in five online purchases on Black Friday and more than one in four on Thanksgiving.
So who exactly is this customer shelling out thousands of dollars for diamonds on their tablets and smartphones (including engagement rings that cost tens-of-thousands of dollars)? Check out the video to find out.
And with some commentators suggesting jewelry deals are no better now than during other gift-giving times of the year (Valentine’s Day, Mother’s Day), are the holidays really the best time to be a fine jewelry buyer?
“We bring savings of 20% to 40% off every day versus the brick and mortar guys,” Kanter contends. But, he concedes, the “fact of the matter is there are deals on Cyber Monday that compare favorably to Valentine’s Day. During key gift-giving times we definitely promote as required by the customer.”
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