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How Big Was Black Friday in 2018?

By Motley Fool Staff - Nov 29, 2018 at 9:16AM

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The holiday shopping surge may be moving even earlier, but the post-Thanksgiving push somehow keeps getting bigger, and more omnichannel.

Total sales on Black Friday rose again, and the percentage that went to e-commerce grew even faster. And that's definitely good news for some retailers, because in any number of niche businesses, the share of annual sales that happen in the fourth quarter is upward of 40%.

In this MarketFoolery podcast, host Chris Hill and senior analyst David Kretzmann reflect on the early data from the sales extravaganza, and consider what it suggests for the rest of the holiday season.

A full transcript follows the video.

This video was recorded on Nov. 26, 2018.

Chris Hill: Let's move on to retail, which is obviously the big headline over the last few days, certainly post-Thanksgiving, Black Friday, today being Cyber Monday. I feel like Cyber Monday is less of a big deal. I know everyone's talking about how Black Friday isn't as big of a deal, but it still seems like it's a pretty big deal. Cyber Monday seems like it's been extended. Black Friday, online sales were a record, around $6.2 billion. That's up more than 20% from last year. Total sales on Black Friday somewhere in the neighborhood of $23 billion. Black Friday still seems like it's kind of a big deal.

David Kretzmann: Still relevant, although I saw a clip, I think from Black Friday a year or two ago, but a news blooper. There was a news station, you have all the cameras and reporters who are in the entrance of some retail store on the cusp of Black Friday. And the doors open up, and only one guy walks through.

For me personally, I've never been a big Black Friday shoppers. Personally, I feel disconnected from the whole thing. I didn't even buy anything online this year. Although I probably should. Christmas is coming up, right around the corner. For me, what really stuck out is the e-commerce strength, as you mentioned. We saw e-commerce sales up over 23%. Total Black Friday sales, I think I saw up something like 9%. A healthy amount. That bodes well for retailers. That shift to e-commerce, we're still in the relatively early innings. E-commerce as a percentage of overall retail in the U.S., depending on the category, can still be less than 10-15%. So, I have to think this is just another step along the way toward e-commerce taking a bigger piece of that retail pie.

Hill: We talk all the time about how important the holiday quarter is for retailers. I came across some stats about how it's even more so for some retailers, in terms of the percent of annual earnings per share that comes from the holiday quarter. Here are a few names. For Etsy, it's 42% comes from the holiday quarter. Lululemon, 45%. Best Buy, 50%. Bed Bath & Beyond, 54%. So, yes, Target and Walmart and, obviously, Amazon, and others, they want to do well. But for those names, among others, they have to nail it.

Kretzmann: Yeah, absolutely. It's a challenging, competitive space. The companies that have that online presence, they probably have a better shot of reaching existing customers or reengaging customers who have been on those platforms before. I know with Etsy, that's a company that's constantly trying to find ways to be more than just a place to go to buy gifts, make it more of a regular e-commerce destination. But a company like Etsy, being the craft fair online, serves the holiday market really well. They continue to do really well. But companies that are only focused on the brick and mortar aspect, or don't have a strong of an e-commerce angle... as we're seeing, e-commerce is growing faster than overall retail. If you don't have that e-commerce presence, you're probably going to risk falling behind.

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