Improve Your BFCM 2022 Strategy: Learnings from BFCM 2021 (Including Free 2022 Strategy Guide)

mobile shopping on a phone


Fall means the end of summer, cooler weather, time to pull out the sweaters. For retailers it means the start of Black Friday Cyber Monday (BFCM) planning. 

Total sales for BFCM 2021 hit $6.3 billion with an average cart price of $100 (Shopify). This is a 23% increase in sales over 2020, a huge gain for merchants. Many attribute this growth to the stimulus checks many Americans received, but 2021 was also plagued by supply chain shortages and shipping issues. Businesses still managed to fare quite well, especially if they were able to plan early. 

Although the big hitters like Amazon and Walmart are often go-tos for holiday shoppers, many during 2021 wanted to shop small and help independent retailers during the pandemic. The pandemic also led to an increase in alternative fulfillment methods like curbside pickup and buy online pickup in store (BOPIS). 

What can we learn from BFCM 2021 that can help in guiding the 2022 strategy? We will take a look at some data from the prior year that can help inform you and your team on how they can prepare for this upcoming holiday season. 

Shopper Purchase Behavior

2021 saw the peak season begin earlier and last even longer than any year prior. Visitors are starting shopping earlier and more are waiting until the last minute. You will need to consider both styles of customers when creating your strategy. 

The first week of November 2021 saw an increase of 16% in online sales compared to 2020. And those last-minute buyers (last 2 weeks of 2021) constituted 23% of holiday sales, which is an increase of 11% over 2020 (Salesforce).

A big reason for this increase in online shopping late in the season is the growth of buy online, pickup in store (BOPIS). This method grew during the pandemic and has become a new way to both avoid going into stores to shop, but also be able to get something the same or next day. If your store is able to capitalize on a physical presence, make that known on your ecommerce store. It’s not always clear to buyers when a website has a physical store that could be nearby. 

It appears that Cyber Week still doesn’t get the same shopping hype as Black Friday and Christmas sales. Sales grew 2% globally compared to 2020. 

Shopper Onsite Behavior

Many merchants were hit with supply chain disruptions, leading to lower inventory and often higher prices. Shoppers in 2021 saw a 25% increase in prices in the US and 9% worldwide. And, as expected, with those price increases visitors purchased less. Online orders decreased 4% worldwide and were stagnant in the US. 

Unfortunately, it appears the supply chain issues might still plague merchants and shoppers for 2022, along with concerns over inflation which might hamper buyer willingness to spend more. 

Another interesting insight from 2021 was the decline in usage of credit cards. Salesforce found that “for the first time, credit card use for online purchases declined, as consumers opted for mobile wallets and financing tools.” Among these methods are Apple Pay and buy now pay later solutions (Klarna, AfterPay, etc.). 

The widespread adoption of BNPL options on ecommerce stores big and small likely helped lead to the 29% increase in usage over 2020. 8% of purchases made online were with one of those tools. Visitors often note the convenience of shopping with those tools, as well as the ability to pay over time rather than in one large chunk. (Check out our other article on the top 3 expectations customers have for their payment options to learn what matters most to them). 

Another onsite matter to contend with is the further increased usage of mobile. Mobile constituted 71% of BFCM sales, with just 29% being on desktop. Ensure that any changes you’re making before this period is being considered on mobile first, as it’s an easy device to overlook for those of us working on desktops throughout the day. 

Other Factors to Consider

Although 2021 had its fair share of issues including the pandemic, fear of shopping in-store, shipping issues, and supply chain issues, 2022 is on track to have its own issues as well. 

The war in Ukraine, inflation and gas prices were on top of everyone’s minds over the spring and summer for 2022. As inflation grew to 9.1% in June, many visitors felt uneasy about their financial situations. Jungle Scout found that 38% of consumers felt their household income was unstable and 34% were relying on benefits like unemployment or financial assistance.  

How inflation is impact consumer shopping habits 

Over ¾ of consumers say that inflation is impacting their spending and 72% are making fewer fun or impulse buys. To counter the rise in prices visitors are also doing without certain products, buying discounted items, or opting for less expensive or generic brands. 

This shift in consumer buying is likely to impact BFCM for 2022. In our downloadable BFCM 2022 Strategy Guide, we’ll walk you through ideas for how to have a successful holiday sale season. 

Now, it’s not all doom and gloom. Consumers are likely to still spend during the holiday season, though their budget may become more tight. Rather than buy for a more distant acquaintance like a coworker, they will focus on immediate family and friends. They might also choose to purchase during the biggest sales in order to maximize savings. And, they may try to get shopping done earlier to avoid having to pay more expensive expedited shipping. 

Consider these consumer mindsets when you’re starting to draft up your BFCM 2022 strategy. It doesn’t mean nobody is going to purchase for the holidays. It means that consumer behavior is going to likely shift in line with their sentiments toward their economic outlook. Consider how they’re feeling when you’re creating sales, for example, by letting them know this is the best sale of the year so they know to buy now and not wait in hopes of a better deal.

Predictions for 2022

Nobody can know for sure how BFCM 2022 will compare to 2021. Will sales increase? Will they go down due to fears of inflation? 

Tapcart ran a survey and found that “75% of respondents expect their budget this year to be the same or higher than in 2021”. Though they also found that “48% of respondents indicated that they spent more than usual last year because of their COVID stimulus checks”.

The survey also found that 57% of users said their BFCM budget would be lower this year due to higher prices and inflation. 

Inflation is top of mind for visitors and may define BFCM 2022. 

We predict more sales earlier on in the season. Retailers will announce sales ahead of time to help customers prepare their budgets. Tapcart found that one in four shoppers said that BFCM stresses them out. Helping customers anticipate big sales and announcing when the biggest deals are happening can help alleviate that stress.

We also predict more sales throughout the season than usual. These may become more frequent as merchants check their year over year data and try to hit revenue goals. 

Buy now pay later will continue to grow. This method is now ubiquitous across stores and consumers may opt for them even more now with their concerns over high prices and inflation. 

With these insights from the prior year, you can go into your 2022 planning with some ideas of what might be expected this year. Be sure to download our BFCM 2022 Strategy Guide, including tons of tips and ideas for how you can make the most of Black Friday and Cyber Monday this season.