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Analyst: Black Friday No Longer a Single-Day Event

With one initial report (Adobe) suggesting the Black Friday retail weekend saw a slowdown in total sales, official data across the long holiday weekend remains forthcoming.

One analyst contends the annual post-Thanksgiving event has expanded beyond a few days to encompass weeks, before and after the third Thursday in November. Wedbush Securities analyst Michael Pachter made a return to in-store surveillance following last year’s pandemic and found consumers increasingly shop online while still frequenting stores.

Indeed, the Black Friday weekend concludes following today’s Cyber Monday event, so coined by the National Retail Federation in 2005 as a way of promoting e-commerce. The day has now become an industry record-setter. Last year’s Cyber Monday (Nov. 30, 2020) was the biggest online shopping day in U.S. history with more than $10.7 billion spent on e-commerce. 

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“Consumers still come out on Black Friday, but they are increasingly
shopping online, particularly for consumer electronics,” Pachter wrote in a Nov. 29 note.

That said, Pachter and his team still found value assessing inventory levels ahead of Black Friday at retail, while continuing to track the depth of Black Friday deals vs. prior years both online and in stores.

Best Buy, the nation’s largest consumer electronics retail store chain, took precautions against supply chain issues to keep stores well-stocked with video games, connected TVs, and streaming media devices heading into Black Friday, according to Pachter.

“We were surprised at the how little appeared to have sold through
at big box retailers within gaming and PC peripherals this year,” he wrote.

The analyst contends that as consumers increasingly shop online, retail store inventories of select CE items remained slim compared to previous years.

“Sellthrough appeared strong for CTVs and Roku players,” Pachter wrote. “In the stores we checked, Roku players were in high demand, particularly the lower-end models and particularly the discounted 4K streaming stick.”

Roku sells its players at a steep discount in order to drive user growth, especially on its platform and The Roku Channel ad-supported streaming service. Indeed, the company marketed a $15 streaming device on Black Friday.

“We think the pandemic era accelerated direct-to-consumer selling,” Pachter wrote. “Our covered companies are all in the early stages of this, but may benefit as the gross margin upside from direct sales offsets some of the pressure from higher shipping costs this year.”

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