Black Friday and Cyber Monday may be losing some of their clout as the holiday shopping season has extended into early November. But retailers still depend on these two shopping events to boost their sales for the year, and in 2015, the numbers were not all that encouraging. Black Friday saw an 11% drop in sales from the previous year, while online shoppers outnumbered in-store shoppers for the first time. Do retailers need to rethink how they approach the all-important fourth quarter?

Tune in as Motley Fool analysts Vincent Shen and Sean O'Reilly break down the results.

A full transcript follows the video.


This podcast was recorded on Dec. 1, 2015.

Sean O'Reilly: We got some preliminary results, as I understand it. How did things go?

Vincent Shen: Yeah, so last week we talked about the run-up, history behind it, what some of the expectations are, and honestly ...

O'Reilly: It's going to start on the Fourth of July in 10 years.

Shen: Honestly, things kind of came in the way a lot of people expected them to with the emergence of the importance of the online sales, how that's becoming a bigger and bigger component during this big weekend. But overall sales from Thanksgiving and Black Friday actually fell 11% from last year ...

O'Reilly: That's kind ...

Shen: ... to $12.1 billion.

O'Reilly: That's kind of big.

Shen: This is according to data from ShopperTrak, so foot traffic was generally down across the board, and it was noted, I think by the National Retail Federation that this was the first year that online shoppers actually outnumbered those who ventured out.

O'Reilly: It's cold out.

Shen: To the masses.

O'Reilly: This is not surprising.

Shen: To the lines in stores. An interesting thing is, taking that one step further, it's not just that online traffic -- the importance is growing. But you know, we mentioned how mobile had a really surprising turnout. Well, a lot of people again this year were even more surprised despite high expectations, with 40%, with some 40% of that online shopping taking place on smartphones and I think another, like, 10% to 15% happening on tablets. So that's just I think partially from smartphones are bigger, the screens are bigger, it's easier to navigate and shop with them now. So their prominence and use among shoppers is growing. And the thing is, I think, to keep in mind is that Thanksgiving, Black Friday, Cyber Monday, we used to consider this stuff the beginning of the holiday shopping season. It's more like halftime now.

Because you know ...

O'Reilly: Rush in the third quarter, folks.

Shen: ... a lot of retailers begin their deals as early as the very beginning of November. And as a result of that we've seen a decreased importance in the specific days themselves. Black Friday, like I said, Thanksgiving, Black Friday down. Cyber Monday, though, did see some positive results. The sales were at $3 billion, up from last year continuing that growth in terms of the online piece of the pie overall. And it's just nice that we can recap on last week's show.

O'Reilly: Yeah, no, for sure. I can't believe more people didn't think that, you know, just the advent of online shopping might not actually be the death knell of Black Friday. Because the purpose of Black Friday is to get people to come out, give them some deals, make a name for yourself as a retailer for the holiday season. And I mean, my wife, she not only went to the mall just the Saturday before Thanksgiving and bought me some jeans, but they had already started the pricing on the jeans for Black Friday. Not only that, but they didn't have my size in the store so they had it mailed to our house. Need I say more?

Shen: Well, yeah, and even a lot of the retailers, their online deals, which a lot of people think, "Oh, Cyber Monday is that day to do your online." You know, they started those at midnight on Thanksgiving. So everything's moving up, honestly, all of that consumer spend is basically being spread out more and more between November and December overall. And the one last thing I wanted to note, too, is some of the hottest items from Cyber Monday included 4K TVs, iPads, the Xbox, and PlayStation 4. So again this kind of highlights the fact ...

O'Reilly: How'd you get my Christmas list?

Shen: This again highlights the trend for shoppers for their must-have items for the season to be electronics -- like the newest electronic stuff. And I don't see that going away anytime soon.