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The incoming online shopping tide - scratch that, tsunami - that just swamped traditional brick-and-mortar retailing has changed America's shopping landscape forever.
Not only were online sales records broken on Black Friday and Cyber Monday, but they were also broken on Thanksgiving Day. Meanwhile, brick-and-mortar stores debated even opening on a "family-gathering" day.
While online sales numbers themselves are staggering, the story they tell about changing consumer habits might as well be the last nail in the coffin of left-behind retailers across the country.
Here's what that means for the future of America's already shaky traditional retailers...
This Past Weekend Made History
On Black Friday, in-store traffic fell 1.6%, according to ShopperTrak.
Those shoppers were online, spending 16.9% more this Black Friday than they did last year. Shopify said online sales revenue on Black Friday was more than $1 million per minute. Digital sales, in fact, have been growing at a double-digit rate throughout November.
Adobe, an analytics firm, announced that sales were $1 billion more on Friday than there was the same day a year ago. But still, Adobe expected Cyber Monday to be the biggest shopping day in U.S. history.
They were dead right. Cyber Monday, which got its name in 2005 when the National Retail Federation christened it, registered more than $6.6 billion in sales, notching an impressive 17% increase from last year's one-day record.
The bad news for faltering retailers is that it's not just about the swell of shopping on Thanksgiving Day, or how Black Friday gave way to online armies selling everything to everyone, or even about the attention Cyber Monday gets.
It's about changing consumer habits. It's about technology, and a smart way to shop for discounts, and convenience, and the third wave.
It's even moving beyond desktop computers and tablets. Sure, Cyber Monday's about online sales, but this year was more about mobile than anything else.
Cyber Monday move over... Meet Mobile Monday.
This year, Adobe says 47.4% of site visits originated from mobile devices, with smartphones accounting for 40% of those. Of the 33% of revenue generated through mobile devices, 24.1% came through smartphones. Smartphone sales traffic was up 22.2% year over year.
The increasing use of smartphones only proves that consumers are increasingly tech-savvy, convenience-driven, and on-the-go buyers.
That's not going to change. Don't expect any U-turn in this trend that drives shoppers back to malls or brick-and-mortar stores. The way we all used to shop has been irreversibly changed. Thanksgiving Day proved that families could not only gather together and enjoy a traditional holiday, but they can shop together. They can shop from their dining-room tables, waiting for their pie to come out of the oven, if they want.
Brick-and-mortar stores being closed on Thanksgiving Day is only going to drive more consumers online. Adobe reported a record $2.87 billion of sales on Turkey Thursday, up 18.3% from last year. Digital's share of Thanksgiving holiday shopping is increasing every year and already dwarfs in-store sales.
What's driving the online shopping trend (besides faster, cooler, lighter, overall better tablets and smartphones) are the discounts, the convenience, and the experience of online shopping.
About the Author
Shah Gilani boasts a financial pedigree unlike any other. He ran his first hedge fund in 1982 from his seat on the floor of the Chicago Board of Options Exchange. When options on the Standard & Poor's 100 began trading on March 11, 1983, Shah worked in "the pit" as a market maker.
The work he did laid the foundation for what would later become the VIX - to this day one of the most widely used indicators worldwide. After leaving Chicago to run the futures and options division of the British banking giant Lloyd's TSB, Shah moved up to Roosevelt & Cross Inc., an old-line New York boutique firm. There he originated and ran a packaged fixed-income trading desk, and established that company's "listed" and OTC trading desks.
Shah founded a second hedge fund in 1999, which he ran until 2003.
Shah's vast network of contacts includes the biggest players on Wall Street and in international finance. These contacts give him the real story - when others only get what the investment banks want them to see.
Today, as editor of Hyperdrive Portfolio, Shah presents his legion of subscribers with massive profit opportunities that result from paradigm shifts in the way we work, play, and live.
Shah is a frequent guest on CNBC, Forbes, and MarketWatch, and you can catch him every week on Fox Business's Varney & Co.