Phones owned Black Friday

Monday, December 2, 2019 by Robinhood Snacks | Disclosures

Looking back at Black Friday's barbaric beginnings

Last Week’s Market Moves
Dow Jones
28,051 (+0.63%)
S&P 500
3,141 (+1.00%)
8,665 (+1.70%)
$7,453 (+10.83%)
10-Yr US Treasury

Hey Snackers,

$76. That's the average price of a real Christmas tree right now — double what it was in 2008.

Stock markets brushed off the dried gravy residue and trudged into the holiday season at record highs. As Black Friday goes international, we're thinking it needs a new name (more on that below).

1. Black Friday is dead — long live "Mobile Cyber Pickup Week"

We need to rename Black Friday... Odds are you weren't trampled this year by neighbors in pursuit of a Frozen 2 doll. We already unwrapped Black Friday sales data — the era of aggressive in-store gift hunting post-Thanksgiving is over:

  • In store: Sales at physical stores dropped 6.2% from last year and the number of shoppers in those stores fell by 2.1%.
  • Online: Black Friday purchases made online increased by 20% to hit a record $7.4B.

Your phone won Black Friday... You're probably not shocked that ecommerce outpaced physical shopping — buying fresh pajamas online while in your pajamas isn't new. But the surprise this year was the domination of smartphone and pick-up orders that transformed Black Friday into "Mobile Cyber Pickup Week":

  • Mobile $$$: Too tired to open a laptop? 65% of Black Friday's online sales happened on smartphones — that's the biggest day ever for mobile ecommerce transactions, up 35% from last year.
  • Pickup $$$: Annoyed waiting that agonizing 48 hours for shipping? Yes, we are outrageously spoiled. "Buy online, pickup in store" sales jumped 43% from last year.

Omnichannel. It's taking over the way we shop... Omnichannel is the unnecessarily complicated retail term for making sure all sales channels work together like synchronized elves: Buy Spanx online or in-store, and get them delivered online or in-store. Target and Walmart invested heavily in software and logistics to make omnichannel possible... which could be the difference they need to finally slow Amazon's growing control of our shopping.


We're getting Lannister vibes... from the Game of Thrones-worthy strategy behind Charles Schwab's acquisition of TD Ameritrade. First, the discount broker dropped the commission it charges on stock trading to $0 in September — that hurt both Schwab and TD, but damaged TD more since trading commissions made up 32% of its business and only 7% of Schwab's. Then, after injuring commissions-dependent TD, it was easier (and cheaper) for Schwab to acquire its rival for $26B.

StubHub outgrew its eBay nest... So the go-to ecommerce option of the '90s sold its ticketing site StubHub for $4B to European tival Viagogo. EBay's fallen way behind Amazon in online shopping, so activist investors pushed eBay to sell the distraction (no offense, StubHub). Now eBay can focus on growing its 6.1% share of US online sales (Amazon's got 47%). At least eBay enjoyed an Antiques Roadshow-esque return: It bought up StubHub for only $310M in 2007.


Here's the old news... Google acquired Fitbit for $2.1B. Here's the new news: Facebook wanted Fitbit too, and was just $10M short of Google's winning bid. The failed attempt shows that one of Big Tech's next battles is over your body's data. Apple has its Watch, Google has its own new wearable, and Facebook may have to build up from scratch.

The tariff war hasn't felt real for us... but it's really real for Dollar Tree. Revenues rose last quarter for the 15K-store chain, but its costs grew faster because of tariffs it pays for the Made in China plastic-anything it sells — the stock plummeted 19% lower in 1 day on that news. On December 15th, a fresh round of tariffs is scheduled — this time on the other half of things from China (which have so far been tariff-free) like electronics, shoes, and other stuff on your wishlist.

What else we’re Snackin’
  • Pod: How we build our Snacks Daily podcast every day
  • Work: Meeting issues — why groups are bad at solving problems together
  • Life: 3 keys to start saying "no" (yes, we mean no)
  • Invest: Goldman Sachs' 2020 predictions for the US economy (jobs, interest rates, and a lot of "modestly")
  • Money: How much to spend on holiday gifts — and how much to spend paying off debt
  • Visualize: The 4K+ online purchases Shopify executes each minute during "BFCM" (Black Friday - Cyber Monday)
Snacks Daily Podcast
  • SoulCycle wanted to IPO, but Peloton actually did. We're in third position to compare storylines from the two cycling-focused, fitness-tech leaders. Are physical gyms more like Blockbuster, or movie theaters?
  • Subscribe below to our daily 15-minute podcast to find out
This Week

Disclosure: Authors of this Snacks own stock of Amazon and options of Peloton stock.

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