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Holiday Playbook 2019

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When it comes to Black Friday, your price matters a lot. In fact, according to Google, pricing and promotions are 13% more influential in the week leading up to the third Friday in November. 

 

Black Friday primes people to buy, but they also expect deep discounts on items. But just because people expect discounts doesn’t mean that you need to award them for every product in your store. 

 

As a pricing company, this is our area of expertise. So to help you think more strategically about your price on Black Friday, we did an analysis of market prices from the last two years. 

 

Some results were surprising, and some results were exactly what we expected. But all of them provide valuable insights into the weeks leading into Black Friday, and can help you build a more strategic plan for the day. 

 

Keep reading to learn more about how Black Friday has changed over the last two years and get some expert tips on how you can make this year’s holiday season more profitable. 

Price increases and decreases

As a retailer or brand, you no doubt feel pressure to decrease your prices on Black Friday. But is this the right strategic move?

 

We were curious, so we analyzed whether there were any price increases during the period leading up to the retail holiday and on the day itself. 

 

Our results showed that prices don’t just decrease on Black Friday and in the weeks leading up to the date. Sometimes they increase, contrary to popular belief. 

2017: Week Preceding Black Friday Price Increases and Decreases

Holiday-Playbook-Cover_2017- Graph B

 

2017:  Black Friday Week Price Increases and Decreases
Holiday-Playbook-Cover_2017- Graph B

Price increases can happen for a number of reasons, and there’s no data that can give us a definitive answer on when or where a price increase will occur. 

 

One possible explanation though is a matter of strategy. Retailers might rationalize that consumers are willing to spend on Black Friday regardless of the price, and may raise prices to capitalize on the “buying fever.”

 

Another possibility is a response to supply and demand. As different retailers sell out on stock, competitors might naturally raise prices as a response to the more limited market-wide supply. 

 

Price decreases still occur 1-2x as often as a price increase, but look out for price increases on the day itself. This increase could signal an opportunity for you to lift your prices to capture more margin. Alternatively, you could decrease prices to undercut the competition.

Black Friday vs. the preceding week: what does the data show?

How does the week before Black Friday look compared to the week of Black Friday itself? Our analysis showed that the number of price changes increased for every single category we looked at. 

 

2017:  Price Changes Week Preceding Black Fridaylack Friday Week Price Increases and Decreases

 

Holiday-Playbook-Cover_2018- Price Changes Preceding BF

In the week before Black Friday 2017, prices changed on:

 

  • 23% of products in the Baby category
  • 23% of products in the Health and Beauty category
  • 32% of products in the Computers and Electronics category
  • 24% of products in the Home, Garden, and Living category
  • 20% of products in the Sports, Travel, and Outdoor category
  • 28% of products in the Toys category

2017:  Percent of Price Changes in Black Friday Week

 

Holiday-Playbook-Cover_2017- Price Changes in BF

In Black Friday week though, the number of price changes was significantly higher. From the 20th to 26th of November 2017, prices changed on 

 

  • 28% of products in the Baby category
  • 27% of products in the Health and Beauty category
  • 32% of products in the Computers and Electronics category
  • 27% of products in the Home, Garden, and Living category
  • 22% of products in the Sports, Travel, and Outdoor category
  • 28% of products in the Toys category

 

2018: Percent of Price Changes in Week Preceding Black Friday

Holiday-Playbook-Cover_2017- Price Changes Preceding BF

2018 told a similar story. In the week before Black Friday 2018, prices changed on:

 

  • 18% of products in the Baby category
  • 18% of products in the Health and Beauty category
  • 33% of products in the Computers and Electronics category
  • 25% of products in the Home, Garden, and Living category
  • 20% of products in the Sports, Travel, and Outdoor category
  • 22% of products in the Toys category

 

2018: Percent of Price Changes in Black Friday Week

Holiday-Playbook-Cover_2018- Price Changes in BF

However, Black Friday week of 2018 also saw an increase in the number of products that experienced a price change. The graph above shows changes on

 

  • 26% of products in the Baby category
  • 27% of products in the Health and Beauty category
  • 36% of products in the Computers and Electronics category
  • 28% of products in the Home, Garden, and Living category
  • 25% of products in the Sports, Travel, and Outdoor category
  • 25% of products in the Toys category

Pricing pressure

Pricing pressure has increased across the board over the last two years, and the number of product prices that change on Black Friday rises each year. 

 

The Consumer Electronics category has always been at the front of the price-changing revolution. As a highly elastic category with lots of vendors, it’s traditionally been a place where retailers need to compete heavily on price. 

 

Our analysis showed that Consumer Electronics shows no signs of slowing down. The number of price changes on the market in the period before Black Friday increased over the last two years from 32% to 36%. 

 

Consumer Electronics: Black Friday 2017 vs. Black Friday 2018Holiday-Playbook-Cover_2018- Consumer Electronics

Who is catching up?

Consumer Electronics leads in the number of price changes for Black Friday. But are other categories catching up? 

 

Our analysis showed that the Baby and Beauty categories both experienced price changes on 27% of their assortment in 2018.

 

This is surprising because both categories have passed the Toys category, which is another traditionally high-pressure category. Toys typically change price on 25% of the products on the market. 

 

There are also several other categories that show rising pricing pressures. Retailers and brands in the Sports, Travel, and Outdoor categories will probably experience a growing price pressure in the coming years. 

 

Overall, we are well on the way to one in four products experiencing a price change on Black Friday itself (or in the weeks leading up to it).

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