Why I Think Black Friday Isn’t Here to Stay

by Jessica Sommerfield · 0 comments

It’s November, which means Thanksgiving and Black Friday are around the corner. Every year since I can remember, Black Friday has been a big deal for both retailers and consumers. For consumers, it’s a chance to experience a little excitement by getting up crazy early and joining long lines for a chance at the latest, rock-bottom-priced gadget (or infamous 500 thread-count sheets) and kick-starting their holiday shopping. And, as one of the single-highest grossing sales events of the year,  it’s termed “Black Friday” for a reason: retailers are ‘in the black.’  For many families, it’s a yearly tradition of bonding following a day of Thanksgiving; for businesses, it’s a yearly event into which tremendous planning and strategy is invested with the hope of a profit and besting the competition.

Why, then, with how securely it seems to be rooted into our culture and economy, do I think it will soon be a thing of the past?

The Rise of ‘Black Thursday’
In the last two years, major retailers have given into what they report as pressure from consumers to open their doors earlier than 5am on Black Friday. Last year, many doors opened at 6, 8, or 10pm on Thanksgiving Day. Their reasoning was that families, full from their turkey dinner, would appreciate the opportunity to shop in the evening instead of early morning (targeting night owls instead of the notorious Black Friday early birds).  In spite of a minor boycott movement which protested the encroachment of  consumerism on a ‘sacred’ American holiday, thousands across the country showed up for Thanksgiving sales just as eagerly as they did for Black Friday, proving that market research was right on. Another reason for the ‘staged’ release of sales over several hours is an increased emphasis on customer safety after a fatal trampling in New York a few years back. Staging sales events thins out customer traffic and keeps it moving smoothly, decreasing the dangers of crowding or fights.

Again this year, ‘Black Thursday’ has launched some people into throws of protest and many into throws of ecstasy at being able to eat their turkey and shop, too. But what does this mean for Black Friday?

A Skeleton of Its Former Self
While most retailers still incorporate Black Friday deals into a massive two-day event, Friday sales aren’t likely to be as spectacular or as sought-after as Thursday ones. What, in previous years, was sold in the ‘day after Black Friday’ event is now being featured on Black Friday.  Consumers who prefer not to shop on Thursday in favor of the traditional Black Friday experience may discover the deals to be surprisingly lack-luster. It’s easy, from the trend of the last two years, to assume that Black Friday might be phasing out in favor of Thanksgiving sales. But wait — it doesn’t stop there.

Pre-Black Friday Events
What is the next logical step in the progression of increasingly competitive and impatient retailers/consumers? Pre-Black Friday. While its beginnings appear humble, it wouldn’t surprise me if this trend becomes the compromise between those who protest ‘Black Thursday’ and the demand for a one-day major sale tradition. My prediction is that with the increase of competition among retailers, soon there will no recognizable Black Friday event, but a series of spaced-out sales.

Cyber Monday and Online Shopping
Cyber Monday is a more recent phenomenon than Black Friday that has caught on as many consumers trend to shopping more online than in stores. Not only aren’t there long lines online; you can be more certain of getting exactly the item/size/quantity you want without making a trip out into the cold. Most Black Friday and Thanksgiving Day deals are also fully available online, with the understanding that time limits apply just as in stores. For those who don’t enjoy the crowds, online holiday shopping can save money by decreasing impulse buys and eliminating travel expenses. Personally, this is how I plan to do most of my shopping this holiday season. What about you?

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