What Happened to Black Friday?

Justin Yelda

By Paul Bensman, Associate Broker / CEO at Locations Commercial Real Estate Services

Black Friday used to be the day after Thanksgiving - period. It lasted 24 hours, like every other day. That’s all changed. This year, more merchants are jumping the gun and offering Black Friday discounts – some starting a month early! Black Friday turned gray when retailers started opening on Thanksgiving Day. Despite pushback from major players (including the Mall of America), and some negative backlash from consumers, this trend looks like it will continue. USA Today reports that Toys”R”Us will open at 5 pm on Thanksgiving and stay open for 30 consecutive hours!

Sure, there are still people who enjoy the excitement of those perennial “doorbuster specials”, but the mob experience isn’t the only game in town anymore. Most Black Friday deals are now available online, so there’s no need for a trip to the store. Many shoppers wait and shop the deals on Cyber Monday – although online sales now run from Thanksgiving Day to Black Friday, straight through into Cyber Monday.  Even, Cyber Monday is starting to last a week.

Whether making online or in-store purchases, today’s consumers are more sophisticated when it comes to price shopping and well-educated about specific products. Smart phones and other portable devices allow them to easily price check and compare features – even during their in-store shopping.  “Deals” aren’t limited to specific time or place.

Forbes reported a notable shift in behavior this year.

“… 47% said that they plan to skip 2016’s Black Friday (or Cyber Monday), and 73% prefer to do their shopping outside of the holiday season during newer e-commerce deal days like Amazon Prime Day. Even some of those who went out to the stores for deals last year are sitting out Black Friday this year, with 34% indicating a change in behavior.”

USA Today sums up the downward trend this way

“Nearly two-thirds of consumers indicated they will begin holiday shopping before the start of Black Friday week, while 29% will have completed most of it by then… 52% of respondents say they won’t rely on Black Friday as much this year as they used to, up from 47% in 2014.”

Online Sales still come out ahead...

According to Practical Ecommerce, 2015 data shows a clear switch to online sales.

“Black Friday sales in physical stores were off more than $1 billion — dropping from $11.6 billion a year ago to $10.4 billion. In contrast, online sales were up by double digits for Thanksgiving Day and Black Friday.”

So, Black Friday is evolving; shifting to multi-channel purchases and moving from a single day to a series of sale offerings long before the actual day. People are doing their holiday shopping differently. People are shopping even earlier. The important thing for our economy is that people are still shopping!


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