Black Friday anticipation builds

Black Friday is almost upon us and the outlook is looking good for a positive start to the holiday season. The NRF predicts that 152 million people will shop over Black Friday weekend, up 10% from last year – a conservative estimate based upon the actual 212 million shoppers that actually appeared in retail stores. Some of this shopping activity may be bolstered by the bevy of retail stores that are opening earlier than any previous holiday seasons despite some pushback from both employees and consumers. Online indicators also point to growing interest with Black Friday-related searches up 17% last week as compared to the previous year and 154% from the previous week.

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Traffic to websites dedicated to Black Friday information, such as BlackFriday.info and BFads.net, also increased 15% year-over-year. These websites capture a significant share of Black Friday-related searches; however, there is significant anticipation each year around the release of promotions from specific retailers, whose brand names appear frequently in Black Friday-related searches. Wal-mart is the retailers to appear most frequently, which has also translated into Walmart.com directly capturing a higher share of Black Friday searches. For the 4 weeks ending November 12, 2011, Walmart.com received 10% of Black Friday-related terms, up 9 percentage points from the same time frame last year.

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The impact of Wal-mart’s Black Friday sale is also key to driving traffic to the Black Friday websites, where traffic jumped 152% from the previous day when Wal-Mart released information about Black Friday promotions on November 10th. Total visits to Walmart.com also increased 15% on November 10th as compared to the previous day.

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