Black Friday is either the busiest or second busiest shopping day of the year – depending on who you ask – but there is little debate that it’s, well, busy. Every year, JLL asks some of the busiest folks around – our mall general managers – to give us the inside scoop on what’s going on at properties and retailers across the country. Here’s what we found out.
Two-thirds of centers reported moderate to strong traffic on Black Friday and nearly 90 percent said it was steady traffic throughout the morning – compared to a large rush punctuated by a severe drop-off. That’s changed from years past, when retailers only rewarded the early birds. Some of that has to do with the advent of Thanksgiving openings and earlier promotions in general. Retailers have taken some of the “scramble” out of the day offering deals that are good for the entire day, weekend, or longer. Anecdotally, the managers told us that the traffic started a bit later, especially for the in-line mall tenants, as the big-boxes dominated the early morning shopping.
Retailers were also reporting strong traffic, with 69 percent saying it was the same or better than last year. More importantly, they also reported sales were strong – with 78 percent saying they were the same or ahead of last year’s pace. Many retailers managed inventories better this year, and therefore many of the promotions were planned as opposed to deep discounts, which should help buoy profits.
The retailers with the top promotions – and subsequently the retailers with some of the longest lines – that our managers reported were: Bath & Body Works, Victoria’s Secret, JC Penney, Macy’s, and Old Navy. But what were some of the most coveted items (on promotion or not)? Not surprisingly, electronics (such as game consoles or wearables) and toys (like Star Wars Rogue items and Hatchimals) were a constant refrain from our GMs – but there were some interesting items that caught our eye. One GM was on top of the fashion choices of the days consumers noting that, “anything ombre, velvet, or fringed along with statement faux-furs and embellished purses” were flying off the shelves. The most surprising item noted? “Yeti everything,” said one GM. I guess people in that trade area are really into keeping things cold. The most heartwarming “hot item” hands down that a GM noted was the Love Your Melon hat being sold at EVEREVE, a product that “gives back by supporting non-profits leading the fight against pediatric cancer.”
But while it was a busy day – the season clearly isn’t over. The NRF reported that only 9 percent of consumers completed their holiday shopping over the weekend, down from 11 percent from last year.
So our GMs will be busy for just a bit longer. Happy shopping!