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Is Black Friday Dead?

Over the past several years, the national retailers and malls across the country have tried to one-up each other by offering earlier and earlier holiday sales, this year finally crossing over to a Thanksgiving evening opening (while KMart opened Thanksgiving morning, and staying open for 42 consecutive hours) But has their quest to be first helped or hindered sales?

If this weekend was any indication, it hasn’t helped at all overall.

Shopping sprees started earlier, leading to a decrease for Friday. Plus a lot of people are pledging to ONLY shop local and are sitting out the pandemonium of Black Friday in favor of Small Business Saturday.

And over the past several years, the recently dubbed ‘Cyber Monday’ has also cut into traditional Black Friday sales. In fact, online shopping has skyrocketed this year as many retailers offered the same deals online as they did at the stores which kept people home. That led to an incredible jump in orders placed on cell phones and tablets last week.

A company that tracks online sales from over 800 stores in the U.S. said online shopping went up 25% this year from last.

A national traffic tracker for the major retailers and malls said there were 5.6% less people out on Friday this year. Of course Thanksgiving shopping was UP 27.3% with so many stores opening early.

Even with consumer confidence on the rise, total sales Thursday and Friday were DOWN 0.5% from last year.

There was a lot of talk on social media about retailers opening on Thanksgiving and the greed of the owners and the disregard to families for making them work. A vocal minority pledged to not shop Thursday in a show of solidarity with the retail workers who were forced to work in hopes that the early openings would fail miserably and would go back to a ‘traditional’ Friday opening. Just the opposite happened as you’ve seen from some of the figures above.

Some more numbers from Tim Burt Media back those numbers:

–22 million people were at Walmart stores between 6-10 p.m. on Thanksgiving night. That’s more than visit Disneyland in a year.

–Walmart counted 10,000,000 cash register transactions during that 4-hour span.

–Target, per minute, was selling an average of 1,800 televisions, and 2,000 video games.

So what does all this mean for the future? My guess is continuing earlier store openings and the madness of ‘Black Friday’ continuing to go away.

Retailers will likely open even earlier on Thanksgiving (or maybe even Wednesday) They will continue to offer the same deals online as they do in the store through mobile-friendly websites. We’ve realized it even in radio, that people are on the go and use your product in ways they didn’t 5-10 years ago. There are a lot of people who listen to our stations through their tablets and phones and there are just as many, if not more, shopping online.

While there are always going to be things I want to shop for in person, the draw of being able to get that $35 blu-ray player and $9 crock pot without having to feel like I’m at the running of the bulls in the store followed by standing in a check out line for hours on end, will ultimately win out.

I say it often and it applies to Black Friday deals as well: evolve or die. Retailers are going to make it easier for us to get their product any way they can, even if it means ‘Black Thursday’…or Wednesday…



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