The infamous day-after-Thanksgiving retail bonanza — affectionately dubbed “Black Friday” — is always a major event for newspapers. Readers look forward to the arrival of the Thanksgiving edition of their local newspaper, stuffed with advertisements for the best retail sales, deals and coupons. While many shoppers expanded their media consumption to embrace digital and mobile formats, the local newspaper — in print and digital form — remains unrivaled when it comes to providing discounts, coupons and information on deals being offered at retailers in local communities.
Consumer shopping and purchasing patterns have changed significantly with digital and mobile technology, increasing competition among retailers to the point that “Black Friday” deals now extend throughout November. And in fact, 40 percent of consumers report starting their holiday shopping before Halloween! (Intimidating, but true.)
“Cyber Monday” has been incredibly successful for extending Black Friday deals. Consumers are increasingly doing their holiday shopping online (46 percent of consumers plan to do their holiday shopping online this year), and online ads are a major part of the newspaper digital offering. With 24/7 access to deals for anyone with an Internet connection, the format the ad takes no longer matters, but where the consumer finds it does, and newspapers are still the most trusted source for advertising.
While online shopping will be strong this year, the reality is that most purchases still occur at physical stores, making the print coupon a mainstay for shoppers. According to Nielsen, sixty-three percent of consumers rate newspapers’ Black Friday editions as “The Ultimate Holiday Shopping Guide” because they focus on local offerings. These editions are often more than twice the girth of a typical paper because local businesses recognize the value of effective local media in driving traffic to stores.
Consumers want to be connected to their local retailers, especially during the holidays. Forty percent of consumers say they will seek out small businesses just to support their community. Small Business Saturday, an annual event launched by American Express in 2010, falls on the Saturday after Thanksgiving, giving local retailers yet another opportunity to leverage the Black Friday section of local newspapers.
With industry forecasters projecting retail sales gains more modest than last year, it is critical for retailers to reach and engage interested shoppers in their communities at every opportunity. Newspaper media offer something that other media cannot: Information on the places where shoppers regularly visit in-person and make purchases in their communities.
The Ultimate Holiday Shopping Guide may look different in the future as technology and consumer preferences evolve, but one thing will remain the same: Local newspapers in print and digital will continue to be a trustworthy source of the best holiday deals that meet local shoppers’ unique needs.
David Chavern is president and CEO of the Newspaper Association of America.