Opinion

Are consumers suffering from event shopping fatigue?

5 min read

03 January 2019

Are consumers suffering from event shopping fatigue? Dare's Roz Thomas believes so. Here's why sales aren't always the solution.

Everyone knows about Black Friday. Most people know about Cyber Monday. Local business enthusiasts talk about Small Business Saturday.

But there are few people who have the faintest clue about sales days like Manic Monday or Panic Saturday: two of the busiest dates in the retail calendar.

Yesterday was Takeback Wednesday, where clothing returns are set to increase by 80%. In order to combat this onslaught of return-hungry shoppers, businesses are offering huge price cuts and sales events.

In the past eight weeks alone, we have seen seven separate event shopping sales days take place (Black Friday, Cyber Monday, Small Business Saturday, Manic Monday, Panic Saturday, the Boxing Day sales, and New Year sales).  This leads many to question: do consumers have energy left to care?

According to research… no. Customers are suffering from “sales fatigue”.

A measly 37% are excited about the January sales. Back in the day when you only had a few sales periods, the scarcity effect came into play.

The impulsion that literally causes you to become wide-eyed led to more purchasing because you didn’t think of the consequences – you just knew that if you didn’t act fast, that pair of top-end headphones were gone.

Missing out on offers often caused inaction inertia, actually discouraging customers from buying later down the line if they didn’t snag the reduced price. Retailers have combated that by extending Black Friday into Black Week in many cases. Yet the amount spent during Black Friday sales was down by 21% this year, according to Barclaycard.

But the transactions were higher and, for the first time, mobile was the preferred medium, rather than bricks and mortar. Event shopping days are often touted as saviours of the high street. We’ve reached saturation though.

Amount spent is down but transactions are up. We’re seeing “a higher number of less expensive purchases.” It seems retailers are reaping quantity, not quality, from this event.

So how do retailers, big and small, combat the sales blues? How do they stand out in such a saturated market?

It all comes down to experience. Amazon announced that Cyber Monday was the biggest shopping day in its 24-year history. It’s curious that the figures were released as a “units shifted” percentage rather than a dollar increase. Nonetheless, a lot of people were using Amazon on that day.

Why? Because it takes you on a seamless user experience, every step of the way nudging you, offering you the best deals, recommending more stuff through its smooth interface.

Even if the monetary gain doesn’t transpire to be as impressive as the number of purchases, it still shows that Amazon’s reeling people in.

On the opposite end of the spectrum, some businesses decide not to take part in these events. And that’s fine. If you don’t want to offer a discount, don’t (although Apple offering gift cards with purchases on Black Friday was excruciatingly cheeky and clever in the same breath).

Small, independent businesses can gain a lot by focusing on the quality aspect. For example, TOG Knives offered no discounts this Black/Cyber season, claiming that the days were “created to drive even more sales”.

Instead, it urged consumers to buy TOG because, well, they’ll probably last a lot longer than some cheap effort you picked up in the sale.

Other independents donate portions of event shopping days to charity, kicking the Noble Edge Effect into gear – essentially meaning the quality of your product and brand is higher because you’re charitable. Absolutely nothing to do with how good the product or brand is.

If retailers want to get stuck into event shopping, they have to go beyond just plastering sales stickers on their products.

The customer experience needs to stand out in such a crowded space – what does it offer shoppers that others don’t?

Does it give a multichannel in-store/in-app experience? Does it make people want to get out of bed to shop on such a hectic day?

If they’re not thinking about this then retailers will simply get lost in the shuffle of feet, virtual or otherwise, dutifully plodding to the next deal.

Roz Thomas is director of experience planning at Dare