“Gray Thursday,” “Black Friday,” “Small Biz Saturday,” “Sofa Sunday,” and “Cyber Monday” Are Different


Share on LinkedIn

Four years ago, we predicted that “Black Friday” would become a season unto itself and now it has. Super-charged by heightened competition, retailers have been “Black Fridaying” earlier and earlier, i.e., offering the same discounts that traditionally showed up the day after Thanksgiving but now those “specials” show up at the beginning of November. The same is true of “Cyber Monday,” which now might reasonably be called “Cyber November.”

It’s probably not surprising that Thanksgiving (aka “Gray Thursday”) and the days that follow have taken on nomenclatures of their own, which makes it a little easier to point out the differences between those five shopping days (six if you count “Giving Tuesday” (started two years ago by New York’s 92nd Street Y and the United Nations Foundation in response to the commercialization and consumerism in the post-Thanksgiving season) and subsequent shopping – in how people are shopping for the holidays.

These facts-of-retail-and-consumer-life were identified by 16,000 consumers in Brand Keys’ 20th annual National Holiday Shopping Survey.

How Many Consumers Do Online Presearch Before Shopping?

Most research will be done the Sunday before Cyber Monday.

Gray Thursday: 45%
Black Friday: 65%
Small Business Saturday: 40%
Sofa Sunday: 85%
Cyber Monday: 55%

But Most Advertising Will Be Done Leading Up to Cyber Monday (Ad–tonnage Indexed to a benchmark of 100)

Thanks to mobile (and a day off for many), the heaviest ad blitz will be done on Black Friday.

Gray Thursday: 129
Black Friday: 133
Small Business Saturday: 112
Sofa Sunday: 108
Cyber Monday: 105

Peak Shopping Times (EST)

Peak shopping times correlate highly with Thanksgiving prep, family celebrations, football, and work schedules.

Gray Thursday: 8:00PM – 10:00PM
Black Friday: 11:00AM – 1:00PM
Small Business Saturday: 11:00AM – 2:00PM
Sofa Sunday: 2:00PM – 4:00PM
Cyber Monday: 8:00PM – 10:00PM

Men and Women Are Different As to Who Shops When

Gray Thursday: Men: 65%, Women: 35%
Black Friday: Men: 60%, Women: 40%
Small Business Saturday: Men: 58%, Women 42%
Sofa Sunday: Men: 45%, Women: 55%
Cyber Monday: Men: 35%, Women 65%

Estimated Spend Spread

Of a projected individual $855.00 for the 2014 holiday spend, 4% higher than last year, here are estimated breakouts of consumer spending.

Gray Thursday (and prior November shopping): 11% or $95.00
Black Friday: 19% or $160.00
Small Business Saturday: 7% or $65.00
Sofa Sunday: 15% or $125.00
Cyber Monday: 35% or $300.00
Giving Tuesday (and subsequent shopping): 13% or $110.00

This year is likely to be the first time in nearly a decade that Black Friday won’t be the biggest shopping day of the holiday season in terms of traffic and sales. This is due in part to the fact that retailers offer deals year-round and consumers have taken that to heart, and more stores are open on Thanksgiving Day. With the expansion of Black Friday into an entire season (aka November) more people are shopping on – or prior to – Thanksgiving, with “Black Friday” becoming more of a ritual than a reason to buy.

As we predicted, with the intense competition for consumer dollars, department stores and specialty shops had to become more aggressive on deals, promotions, and operating hours this holiday season, and those realities are showing up in the real marketplace and on retailers’ bottom lines.

Robert Passikoff
Robert Passikoff, Founder and President of Brand Keys, Inc., pioneered research in loyalty and engagement, creating the Brand Keys Customer Loyalty Engagement Index® ,the Sports Fan Loyalty Index® , and the Women's Wear Daily Fashion Brand Engagement Index® . His first best-selling book, Predicting Market Success provides marketers a 21st century perspective on predictive loyalty metrics. His newest book is The Certainty Principle: How to Guarantee Brand Profits in the Consumer Engagement Marketplace.


Please use comments to add value to the discussion. Maximum one link to an educational blog post or article. We will NOT PUBLISH brief comments like "good post," comments that mainly promote links, or comments with links to companies, products, or services.

Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here