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Forbes Magazine’s Erika Morphy has cited The EGC Group’s latest research brief, How to Prepare for the First “Nonline” Retail Season, in a recent article about the upcoming holiday shopping season. Morphy’s editorial casts a spotlight on the leaders and employees of top retailers and how they will be impacted by the new retail trends discussed in the EGC report. Morphy explains how anxious consumers will race to the stores right after Thanksgiving dinner, and how store employees will attribute their extended hours to corporate greed. Click here to download EGC’s special report and find out about the hottest consumer retail trends, the death of Black Friday, and the immediately actionable steps that brick-and-mortar retailers can take in order to enhance their campaigns for the holiday shopping season and beyond.

Why Retailers Have to Open on Thanksgiving This Year

By Erika Morphy
Forbes Magazine
Published Nov. 17, 2012

I get the angst the retail employees are feeling about having to work on Thanksgiving, I really do. Retailers like Wal-Mart, Target, Toys R Us and Kmart are among those stores that will be opening in the evening on the big day and its employees will have to be there like it or not. And for most of these workers, it is definitely not.

Corporate greed is blamed for the decision, and technically that is true if one defines corporate greed as staying solvent. Brick-and-mortar retailers are on the brink of getting parity in the e-commerce-versus-real world shopping wars, but they still cannot afford to lose ground over the holiday season.

Consider this: Last year IBM‘s Holiday Benchmark survey reported that Thanksgiving online shopping grew by 39.3% year over year. On Black Friday, online sales grew by 24.3% compared to the same period last year.

If these people are logging on to shop, the thinking goes, they should also be interested in walking through a retailer’s doors as well.

And when they do they will be counted and tracked by ever increasingly sophisticated retail management systems.

“Retailers have been struggling with fact that so many sales have been going to ecommerce,” Rob Wilson, senior director of Retail Analytic Packages atSAP, says. Indeed they might have seen themselves on the losing side of technology in previous years (that darned Internet!) but not so this year. “The past 12 to 18 months we have seen some amazing advancements in in-memory technology, POS data management and associated analytics.” In-memory allows for the rapid granular analysis of activity at the transactional and SKU level, he says. “It lets retailers make decisions almost in real time about what is moving and at what times in the store.” They can comfortably predict what sales would be like if they opened an hour earlier or later or, oh let’s say, on Thanksgiving Day.

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Not that ecommerce is doomed now that stores are adopting bigger and meaner tech tools. This holiday season 20% of all online sales will come from mobile devices. So predicts the IBM prior to releasing its Holiday benchmark.

Not surprising, Apple‘s iPad and iPhone are driving much of this traffic, with 8% of online traffic originating from the iPad and 7.2% from the iPhone.

The iPad Mini will probably skew online sales traffic even more, says Michele Turner, CMO of mBlox. “The iPad Mini will be transformative in terms of online shopping. It is small enough to toss in your purse or keep in your pocket, but still has robust browsing capability. It can be part of creating a great branded experience for a retailer.”

So as retailers step up their POS investments and mollify employees working on Thanksgiving as best they can, they also have to consider their mobile–not just online—presence.

For the record, mobile shoppers, it has been determined in numerous studies, don’t bother to wait more than a second or two for sites to open on their devices. They also can be exceedingly impatient with clunky payment processes.

It is well worth it for sites to overcome these challenges.

Last year, consumers spent more than $20.7 billion shopping using mobile devices, according to The EGC Group’s report “How to Prepare for the First Nonline Retail Season”. Also, one in four used more than one device to shop during the 2011 Holiday Season, a percentage likely to increase as people add to their stable of tablets.