Black Friday 2014: By the numbers

christmas shoppingSource: syracuse.com ~ Author: Kevin Tampone

Black Friday and the rest of the holiday shopping season is often the make or break period of the year for retailers.

Regardless of what you think of all the hype, stores really do rake in a lot of money around the holidays. Call it rampant consumerism fueled by corporate greed if you want to, but the spending is real.

The predictions and projections about how much money changes hands throughout the season, and on Thanksgiving weekend in particular, are often gaudy. And wrong occasionally, of course.

But that doesn’t make it any less fun to gawk. So here’s a look at Thanksgiving, Black Friday and holiday shopping, by the numbers.

4.1: The percentage increase in projected holiday sales for 2014. Sales rose 3.1 percent in 2013. The 10-year average is 2.9 percent

$616.9 billion: The total amount of sales expected during the holiday season of November and December.

8 – 11: The projected percentage increase in online holiday sales. Non-store holiday sales rose 8.6 percent last year.

$105 billion: The total amount of projected online holiday sales.

725,000 – 800,000: The total number of seasonal employees retailers will hire this year. Retailers hired 768,000 seasonal workers a year ago.

6: As in 6 a.m. As in the time Kmart stores will open on Thanksgiving morning.

42: As in Kmart stores will be open 42 hours straight from the time they open on Thanksgiving to the time they close at midnight on Black Friday.

140.1 million: The number of people who definitely will or might shop over Thanksgiving weekend.

95.5 million:
The number of people who will or may shop on Black Friday.

25.6 million:
The number of people who will or may shop on Thanksgiving.

44: The percentage of holiday shopping the average consumer will do online.

$718: The average amount consumers will spend on the holiday gifts in 2014.

61: The percentage of consumers planning to shop in a physical store on Thanksgiving or Black Friday.

45: The percentage of people who plan to shop on Thanksgiving Day.

49: The percentage of people who started or planned to start their holiday shopping in September.

If you are in the market to lease, buy or sell commercial property in Northern California, Realtors associated with Century 21 M&M Commercial is look forward to walking you through the process. Rest assured that Century 21 M&M Commercial Realtors will do their best to make sure that both sides are protected during the transaction.

Holiday Is (Almost) Here: 5 Shopping Trends Marketers Should Watch

Source: thinkwithgoogle.com

shopping‘Tis the season … to shop. The holidays may still be a few months away, but consumers are already gearing up for the year’s biggest shopping season. They’re searching for deals and checking them twice across a variety of screens (mobile, increasingly). Given that the holiday shopping season kicks off earlier every year, we wanted to help get a game plan in the hands of marketers. Here we take a look at some seasonal highlights from last year and identify five key trends to make the year’s busiest retail season a successful—and joyful—one.

1. Mobile: the gift that keeps on giving

From research to purchase, holiday shoppers are increasingly turning to mobile. Looking at usage from last year, there’s little doubt that smartphones have become almost as addictive as eggnog.

  • During Q4 2013, mobile accounted for almost 35% of online traffic, up 40% YoY (IBM Digital Analytics Benchmarks, 2014).
  • December sales on smartphones and tablets were up threefold from 2011 to 19.1% (IBM ExperienceOne, 2014).
  • 52% of online smartphone shoppers used their phones throughout the shopping process during the 2013 holidays (Google and Ipsos MediaCT, 2014).
  • Post turkey, 40% of Black Friday’s online shopping was on mobile (Custora, 2014).

As seen in our piece on Back to School, the second-most popular shopping event of the year, mobile plays an essential role in the shopper’s journey. Given last year’s holiday numbers, we expect this trend to escalate—and not just for research and/or purchase but for the entire path. According to a Google/Nielsen study on the Mobile Path to Purchase:

  • On average, consumers spend 15+ hours researching on mobile sites and apps.
  • Mobile influences shoppers’ purchases across channels; 93% of those who research on mobile end up purchasing a product or service, and most of these purchases happen in a physical store.
  • But do they know where to go? Proximity matters to these mobile consumers. In fact, 71% of smartphone shoppers used a store locator to find a shop location.
  • There’s a sense of immediacy for these shoppers. Over half (55%) of the “I want it now” crowd who use mobile to research want to make a purchase within the hour (83% within a day).

2. So long Black Friday, hello Gray Friday

Last holiday season, shoppers seemed hungrier for a deal than they were for turkey. Black Friday transformed into Gray Friday; the big shopping day’s sales were diluted a bit as retailers began their promotions and deals early. And consumers responded (some even ditching their family dinners to shop). Consequently, we’re starting to see a shift away from “tentpole” events such as Black Friday. “Retailers stretched Black Friday deals and promotions across November—removing the focus from one big day of shopping,” reports Shopper Trak’s founder Bill Martin. A Google Consumer Survey conducted in July shows the following:

  • Some shoppers (29%) will start holiday shopping before Halloween.
  • Most will wait to begin buying gifts until the holiday shopping period: 19% will start shopping on Black Friday/Cyber Monday, and 48% will do so in early December.
  • Not only was consumer interest in Black Friday up 27% YoY from 2012, but queries relating to the topic also started about a week earlier (Google Data) (Chart 1).

Chart 1: Black Friday Query Demand

Source: Google Data, Indexed Search Query Volume, United States.

Black Friday remains the #1 in-store shopping day during the holiday season. The next best days, according to a 2013 MasterCard SpendingPulse report, are December 21 and 23. Tuesdays and Wednesdays are the most popular days for online shopping, and Fridays and Saturdays are the top days overall for in-store holiday shopping.

3. The constantly connected, savvy shopper

O, come all ye faithful—and savvy—shoppers. This holiday season, shoppers are more informed than ever about their purchases. Long before the swipe of a credit card, they’ve been pondering and researching purchases for hours on many screens and during every hour of the day.

  • The time spent on digital has increased by more than two hours in the past three years—from 3 hours 11 minutes in 2010 to 5 hours 46 minutes in 2013 (eMarketer, 2014).
  • Since 2012, the time spent researching popular holiday shopping categories, such as toys and home appliances, has increased 9.9 to 12 hours and 13 to 15.8 hours, respectively (Google and Ipsos MediaCT, January 2014).
  • Before making a purchase in 2013, shoppers referenced 12 sources of information—up from just five in 2010 (Google and Inmar, 2013).

Many of these informed and educated holiday shoppers are brand agnostic. In other words, they’re open to influence, and that’s music to a brand’s ears. A study about 2013 post-holiday shopping by Google and Ipsos MediaCT shows that 57% don’t yet have a specific brand or product in mind. But capturing the attention of shoppers who hunt for holiday gifts across many different screens can be a challenge. Brands need to pinpoint the best platforms on which to share engaging content and promotions with consumers. YouTube is a stand out for shoppers: 64% referenced the video site as the most influential channel for making shopping decisions. Creators such as Bethany Mota are particularly persuasive; 85% of the views for brand-related content on YouTube stem from YouTube creators rather than directly from the brand.

4. In-store traffic is down, but the spirit of spending is up

In January, The Wall Street Journal reported that foot traffic to stores in November and December plunged from 38 billion in 2010 to 17 billion in 2013. But the fact that consumers may have made fewer visits to retailers, that doesn’t mean overall sales were down. In fact, retail sales for that same period increased from $681 to $783 billion. So, although fewer people shopped in-store, those who did bought more, adding value to each visit.

Increasingly, shoppers are relying on their smartphone while making that in-store visit. A 2013 Google study done in conjunction with the Google Shopper Marketing Agency Council and M/A/R/C Research tracked mobile’s impact on the in-store shopping experience. The research showed that 84% of smartphone shoppers use their device while shopping in a store, and one in three will use it to find the information they need rather than ask an employee (Chart 2).

Chart 2: In-Store Smartphone Usage

Source: Google/Google Shopper Marketing Agency Council/M/A/R/C, “Mobile In-Store Research,” April 2013.

5. Deck the halls with deals

We already know the holiday shopper is smart and keen on research. A good deal on price and shipping will have them reaching for their wallets.

  • An extremely high percentage (92%) of shoppers will check prices online for the best bargain (parago, 2014).
  • 91% of shoppers say a low price is an important to very important factor in the decision to buy (Google).
  • Free shipping was deemed the second-most important factor for shoppers when purchasing online (Shop.org, Spring Planning Guide, 2014).
  • A comScore/UPS study reports that 83% of online shoppers are willing to wait additional days for delivery if they can get free shipping.

The holidays are closer than you think—especially for digitally savvy consumers. They’re already on the lookout for great deals, and that means you need to be where they are … now. This year’s holiday shopping season is geared to be a long one, bustling with well-informed shoppers who are as keen on a digital deal as they are for more traditional in-store shopping. This year, as you add ingredients to your seasonal marketing mix, be sure to take these five holiday trends into account:

  • Mobile engagement will be paramount to holiday success. Your products need to be easy to find and purchase across screens. Make sure consumers are always seeing the latest, context-relevant information.
  • The holiday season is long (very long, actually). Retail success is no longer confined to the sales for just one day, such as Black Friday. Ensure that your brand is top of mind for the consumer by being present throughout the research period and at the time of purchase.
  • Today’s shoppers are putting more hours into research, and that means brands have an opportunity to get in front of them and influence behavior. Be there when they are researching (think search and display ads) and remind them throughout the process with remarketing.
  • Foot traffic to stores may have declined, but the value of those in-store visits is on the rise, and many shoppers are turning to smartphones while shopping. Providing detailed information through mobile can help them figure out what to buy (and what else they may need).
  • Online shoppers are value conscious. They want the best deal and, whenever possible, free shipping. These two factors will significantly drive their purchases.

Silicon Valley commercial real estate boom driven by tech

Silicon Valley commercial real estate boom driven by techSource: Mercury News ~ Author: George Avalos, Oakland Tribune

About 6.2 million square feet — enough room for 31,000 workers — is under construction in Santa Clara County and Menlo Park, Jones Lang LaSalle estimated. Colliers International’s regional research manager, Jennifer Vaux, based on Colliers’ construction pipeline and broker estimates, puts the figure even higher: about 6.5 million square feet.

“It’s mainly access to talent,” said Tim Bajarin, principal analyst with Campbell-based Creative Strategies. “Silicon Valley has the richest pool of young tech talent in the world.”

A commercial real estate boom is underway in Santa Clara County and south San Mateo County, with developers constructing or renovating roughly 6 million square feet of office space — double the activity of a year ago.

Most of the new space won’t be empty long. More than one-third of the office and research space under development already has been gobbled up by tech firms eager to expand.

“We are starting to see some very tight office markets in Santa Clara County,” said Andy Poppink, managing director for the Silicon Valley office of commercial realty brokerage Jones Lang LaSalle.

Some 4.9 million square feet, or 79 percent, of the current building activity consists of new office space, Jones Lang LaSalle estimated. The rest, about 1.3 million square feet, involves a major renovation of existing buildings. The figures include a 500,000-square-foot complex in Mountain View leased this month to Google and the 434,000-square-foot Facebook West Campus in Menlo Park.

“Social networking, Internet and cloud technology companies are the primary drivers of the growth,” said Phil Mahoney, an executive vice president with realty firm Cornish & Carey.

Tenants have already agreed to lease 39 percent of the 5.7 million square feet, even before it’s complete, Jones Lang calculated.

Google, LinkedIn, Facebook, Amazon, Apple(AAPL), Samsung and Dell are in the pack of companies hunting for space, Mahoney said.

“We see a lot of optimism about growth on the part of the biggest tech companies and a lot of smaller ones,” said Chad Leiker, a vice president with Kidder Mathews, a realty firm.

The roughly 6 million square feet under construction or being refurbished in Santa Clara County and Menlo Park is more than twice the 2.65 million square feet that was being developed in the same area in the middle of last year. And in mid-2011, only about 500,000 square feet was under construction, according to Amber Schiada, director of Bay Area research for Jones Lang LaSalle.

Geographically, the commercial real estate boom has pushed from north to south. A slew of leases and property purchases by Apple, Facebook and Google have gobbled up available space in Cupertino, Mountain View and Menlo Park, causing a leasing surge in Sunnyvale, Santa Clara and, now, San Jose.

But not every Bay Area commercial real estate market is booming. The East Bay has virtually no developer-launched construction, Schiada said.

In addition to building new space, developers are spending tens of millions of dollars to renovate existing buildings, giving decades-old properties a fresh start. The face-lifts are necessary because tech firms want attractive offices to help them recruit top-flight engineers being wooed by multiple tech companies.

“Developers who don’t renovate their older buildings will be left standing on the curb,” said Jim Beeger, a Colliers senior vice president.

Some realty firms have torn down entire buildings to construct brand-new offices. In Sunnyvale, developers bulldozed several buildings, including offices and a hotel, to clear the way for a state-of-the-art LinkedIn campus totaling 587,000 square feet, typically enough for about 2,600 workers.

Other developers, including Bixby Land, are renovating existing buildings to create campuses. In April, Nimble Storage leased a three-building San Jose campus created by a $10 million Bixby renovation. And Bixby has just launched a renovation of a three-building project in north San Jose that will offer a sleek look for tech tenants. The developer added modern exteriors and interiors, along with a large common area featuring an olive grove and fire pits.

“We want to create a unique environment that most employers in Silicon Valley want,” said William Halford, Bixby’s president.

If you are in the market to lease, buy or sell commercial property in Northern California, Realtors associated with Century 21 M&M Commercial is look forward to walking you through the process. Rest assured that Century 21 M&M Commercial Realtors will do their best to make sure that both sides are protected during the transaction.

Small loans power SBA to big year for small business lending

The Card

Source: bizjournals.com ~ Author: Kent Hoover

The Small Business Administration approved nearly $19.2 billion in 7(a) loans in fiscal 2014, the second-largest total in the history of this government-guaranteed loan program for small businesses.

This total was topped only by 2011’s $19.6 billion, when lending was boosted by fee waivers and higher guarantees adopted as part of the economic stimulus package.

(The SBA called 2014’s numbers a record in its news release, but we’ll have to forgive them for being overenthusiastic.)

But any way you slice it, 2014 was a great year for the SBA’s flagship loan program. In dollars, 7(a) lending was up 7.4 percent over 2013. In number of loans, 2014’s total of 52,044 was up 12 percent.

Nearly 60 percent of these loans were for under $150,000. The number of loans of this size were up 23 percent in 2014, helped by the agency’s decision to eliminate fees on them.

The news wasn’t so good for the SBA’s 504 loan program, which is primarily used to finance owner-occupied commercial real state. The SBA approved only $4.2 billion of these loans, the lowest total since 2009. These loans peaked in 2012, when a temporary program allowing businesses to use 504 loans to refinance their existing commercial real estate mortgages was in effect.

The agency’s fiscal year ended Sept. 30.

If you are in the market to lease, buy or sell commercial property in Northern California, Realtors associated with Century 21 M&M Commercial is look forward to walking you through the process. Rest assured that Century 21 M&M Commercial Realtors will do their best to make sure that both sides are protected during the transaction.