by Stephen Garner

black fridayThe retail analytics experts over at RetailNext Inc. have announced its forecast for stores’ biggest and busiest days in the upcoming 2016 holiday season, and for the first time in many years, Black Friday tops neither of the lists. The biggest shopping day in terms of sales is expected to be Friday, December 23, while the busiest shopping day in terms of store traffic is expected to be Super Saturday, December 17.

Black Friday has now moved down to the third biggest shopping day in terms of sales and the second busiest shopping day in terms of store traffic, according to RetailNext.

“As retailers have continued the trend to open more stores on Thanksgiving Day, it has pilfered away both sales and traffic from Black Friday,” said Shelley E. Kohan, vice president of retail consulting at RetailNext. “This year, with Christmas falling on a Sunday, most shoppers will want to cut short their shopping early on Saturday, December 24, leaving the day before, Friday, as retail’s biggest opportunity for sales. For store visits, Super Saturday will lead the way, with Black Friday a very close second.”

“While Black Friday, Super Saturday and Cyber-Monday all continue their starring roles alongside December 23 this year,” continued Kohan, “those retailers who reimagine and reinvent Thanksgiving weekend shopping as more of a month-long event culminating with the holiday weekend will start the season strong, and those retailers nimble and agile enough to tactically respond in December on lessons learned in November will ultimately win the season.”

Earlier, RetailNext issued a positive forecast for U.S. retail performance over the November through December Holiday period, predicting a 3.2 percent year-over-year lift in sales, driven in part by a 14.9 percent increase in year-over-year sales through digital channels.

“There will be slight degrees of variability in early November due to the U.S. Presidential election,” added Kohan, “but the residual angst from Election 2016 will subside by Thanksgiving. As compared to last year, there are two additional shopping days between Thanksgiving and Christmas, and when coupled with generally positive economic indicators, the retail industry looks for a strong close to the year.”