Black Friday Online Sales Soar; Retail Traffic Plummets

As expected, ongoing consumer trends toward e-commerce and away from shopping malls magnified during a pandemic. New data from Adobe Analytics saw a 22% year-over-year increase in online sales on Black Friday (Nov. 27), the official start to the winter retail season.

The research firm, citing data from 80 of the top 100 online retail sites, said e-commerce revenue reached $9 billion the day after Thanksgiving, compared with $7.4 billion during the previous-year period. Adobe said it was the second-highest online revenue day since Cyber Monday 2019 when revenue reached $9.4 billion. This year’s Cyber Monday (Nov. 30) is projected to top $10.8 billion, up 15% from last year.

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Meanwhile, e-commerce’s gain was brick-and-mortar’s drain. Preliminary data from Sensormatic Solutions indicated consumer visits to retail stores on Black Friday dropped 51.2% compared with 2019. Shopper traffic also decreased 45.2% week-to-date (Sunday, Nov. 22 to Friday, Nov. 27) compared with the same period last year.

“Due to COVID-19 and social distancing requirements, shoppers were more purposeful in their in-person Black Friday shopping, causing significantly less crowds than we’ve seen in the past,” Brian Field, senior director of global retail consulting at Sensormatic Solutions, said in a statement. “This was compounded by retailers not offering as many in-store doorbusters and the increasing adoption of e-commerce.”

While many retailers limited their Black Friday hours compared to non-pandemic years, the peak time for shopping remained the same, with the busiest influx of footfall around 2 p.m., according to Sensormatic.

“As we approach ‘Super Saturday’ (Dec. 19), and corresponding shipping deadlines, we expect to see some of the in-store traffic that didn’t materialize on Black Friday appear as consumers wrap up their holiday shopping and make last-minute purchases,” Field said.

The research firm expects the 10 busiest shopping days of 2020 to account for 34.2% of all holiday traffic as compared to 46.5% in 2019. The days include:

  1. Friday, Nov. 27 — Black Friday
  2. Saturday, Dec. 19 — Super Saturday
  3. Saturday, Dec. 26 — Day after Christmas, aka “Boxing Day,” in some global regions
  4. Wednesday, Dec. 23 — Wednesday before Christmas
  5. Saturday, Dec. 12 — Second Saturday in December
  6. Monday, Dec. 21 — Monday before Christmas
  7. Saturday, Nov. 28 — Saturday after Thanksgiving
  8. Tuesday, Dec. 22 — Tuesday before Christmas
  9. Saturday, Dec. 5 — First Saturday in December
  10. Sunday, Dec. 20 — Sunday before Christmas

Trans World Entertainment Widens Q3 Loss

Store-based home entertainment retail took another blow to the economic bottom line.

Trans World Entertainment Corp., parent of mall-based packaged media retailer f.y.e. (For Your Entertainment), Dec. 12 reported third-quarter (ended Nov. 3) net loss of $14 million – up 75% from a net loss of $8 million during the previous-year period. Revenue dipped slightly to $90.8 million from $91.8 million last year.

Albany, N.Y.-based Trans World Entertainment attributed the increased loss on the sluggish environment for mall-based retail, in addition to ongoing consumer shifts away from packaged media.

“For the f.y.e. segment, the steps we’ve taken, including changes in our merchandise assortment and presentation, to counter declining mall traffic and the ongoing declines in physical media are beginning to generate a positive response from our customers as we delivered a comparable store sales increase of 3.8% for the quarter,” CEOMike Feurersaid in a statement.

The increase was driven by sales in lifestyle (up 13.3% from the previous-year period) and electronics (up 3%). The segments represented 53% of store revenue compared to 48% last year.

Video and music comp sales declined 4% and 0.03%, respectively, with video decline offset by increases in horror movie DVD and Blu-ray Disc sales.

It was a pyrrhic victory as operating losses at f.y.e. increased nearly 21% to $9.5 million from $7.8 million last year. Revenue dropped about 8% to $47.8 million compared to $52.1 million. The company operated 227 stores in the quarter compared to 268 stores in the previous-year period.

Meanwhile, attempts to transform corporate revenue from brick-and-mortar entertainment to ecommerce remain challenged.

Trans World Entertainment acquired in 2016 to help it transition into ecommerce. The Spokane, Wash.-based subsidiary helps third-party businesses navigate online selling through channels such as Amazon, and eBay.

Etailz generated 48% of Trans World Entertainment’s Q3 revenue, up from 44% last year. It also increased segment operating losses exponentially to $4.2 million from $253,000 last year. Revenue increased 8% to $44.1 million from $40.8 million. Primary cost driver included sales, general and administrative costs that totaled $11.4 million, up 37% from $8.3 million.

Regardless, Feurer remains upbeat heading into the winter retail period — despite Wall Street’s growing lack of confidence. The company’s stock is trading below Nasdaq’s $1 minimum and in danger of being delisted.

“Although meaningful headwinds will continue, we have made real progress in our efforts to differentiate our position in this challenging retail environment,” he said.



Trans World Entertainment Stock Given Delisting Warning

Trans World Entertainment Corp. Oct. 12 disclosed it has received formal notice from Nasdaq that its stock has traded below the $1-per-share minimum for the past 30 business days.

The Albany, N.Y.-based distributor, which operates the f.y.e. (For Your Entertainment) home entertainment retail chain, in addition to and related websites, has until April 8, 2019 to bring the stock price in compliance with Nasdaq rules or it will be subjected to delisting.

TWEC reported a loss of $8.1 million in the most recent fiscal period, which was 56% higher than the $5.2 million loss reported in the previous-year period. Revenue dropped nearly 5% to $96.6 million.

Mall-based f.y.e. revenue dropped nearly 17% to $54 million from $65 million during the previous period.



‘That’s Entertainment’ U.K. Retail Chain ‘Under Review’

The future of U.K. retail chain “That’s Entertainment,” which operates 29 stores selling DVD, Blu-ray Disc movies, music CDs and video games, reportedly is under review by corporate parent, Entertainment Magpie Ltd.

The chain was founded in 2007 and employs about 1,000 people with more than 4.5 million registered customers.

With the advent of Netflix and Amazon Prime Video, in addition to ecommerce, entertainment retail globally continues to take it on the chin.

“As a result, [corporate] is conducting an immediate review on the long-term viability of its ‘That’s Entertainment’ retail stores across the UK, which in the worst-case scenario would lead to the closure of all 29 current outlets by the end of May,” the company said in a statement last month.

Magpie said it continues to focus on ecommerce, which includes operating in the United States enabling users to buy and sell packaged media and portable media devices online.

“Whilst online sales and our wholesale sales channels into both the U.K. and across the world have continued to grow, media sales through the retail estate have declined by circa 20% in the last year meaning the sizeable fixed cost base that comes with running a retail estate is something that is becoming increasingly difficult for the business to absorb,” said the company.

Citing the “huge impact” a shutdown of retail operations would have on staff, Magpie said any decision would be taken after “a great deal of consideration.”

“So, we are immediately entering into a period of group consultation to discuss next steps,” said the company.