Black Friday Is Facing Extinction

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Is Black Friday dying? More evidence is showing up indicating that the day after Thanksgiving is not the best day for finding deals. Some retail experts are even forecasting that Black Friday will disappear as an American consumer tradition.

“We are seeing the eventual extinction of Black Friday.” So says Bill Tancer, head of global research for Experian Marketing Services.

Such a comment may come as a surprise to the many shoppers who couldn’t escape the phrase “Black Friday” if they tried. “Black Friday” sales have been appearing long before, and long after, the actual Black Friday, which traditionally takes place the day after Thanksgiving. While it’s common for retailers to conduct “Only X Days Until …” countdowns to major holidays for gift-exchanging like Christmas, last year Staples offered a countdown to Black Friday, which is supposed to be a day for shopping in anticipation of another day.

Nonetheless, to some extent, Tancer is right about Black Friday. While the phrase “Black Friday” is more ubiquitous and overused than ever, the act of physically going shopping on the actual Black Friday is on the decline. Black Friday shopping won’t be extinct anytime soon, but it has undeniably been losing its importance in the marketplace.

(MORE: Season of Giving? Holiday Shopping Hits New Heights of Selfishness with ‘Self-Gifting’ Trend)

According to some surveys, the percentage of consumers who actually go out and hit the malls on the Friday after Thanksgiving has been decreasing for years. A study from Accenture estimated that 44% of consumers were likely to go shopping on Black Friday 2011, down from 52% in 2009. Those numbers are probably overstated compared to the percentage of folks who actually brave the crowds on Black Friday shopping outings. A Consumer Repots poll had it that less than one-quarter of consumers would bother to go shopping on Black Friday itself in 2010.

Even more importantly, those who do hit the stores are spending less. Last year, shoppers spent $11.2 billion in physical stores on Black Friday, a decline of 1.8% compared to Black Friday 2011, according to ShopperTrak.

Part of the reason for the decline in spending is that consumers are more aware that they’re not necessarily going to find the best prices on Black Friday. A much-cited Wall Street Journal article published a year ago indicated that shoppers can often snag better deals on days during the holiday period other than Black Friday. A new report from dealnews states that over the past two years shoppers have been most likely to locate the best deals not on Black Friday or Cyber Monday, but on Thanksgiving and the Sunday of Thanksgiving weekend.

(MORE: 5 Ways Retailers Are Trying to Snag Holiday Shopping Dollars Extra Early This Year)

Another reason that actual Black Friday shopping is on the decline is because the concept of “Black Friday”—and indeed, the entire holiday shopping period—is expanding year after year. This year, holiday ads began airing in early September, and many retailers are already acting as if the holiday shopping season is fully underway, with Christmas displays, special layaway offers, “hot toy” promotions, and more. We’ll surely see more of the trend from last year, in which retailers began rolling out “Black Friday” deals days, if not weeks ahead of the actual Friday after Thanksgiving, with the big players opening their doors for Black Friday well before midnight on Thursday.

“What we see in our data is that retail is really changing,” Experian’s Tancer says. “The consumer is relentlessly searching for that deal.”

It’s understandable, then, that shoppers who are constantly on the hunt for bargains will come to view Black Friday as less special—as just another day to buy stuff when the price is right. Or not.

(MORE: This Is Your Brain on Black Friday Shopping)

It seems unimaginable, however, that people en masse will stop heading out to stores on the day after Thanksgiving. For many shoppers, Black Friday is much more than simply a day to snatch up the best prices. Part of the day’s appeal—for some—is that it’s become a cultural phenomenon. They love the crowds, loud music, garish displays, and competitive atmosphere. They consider shopping a sport, and Black Friday as their Super Bowl. The possibility that they could buy things they actually need at good prices is only part of the justification for waking up early and elbowing through the crowds on a day they might otherwise sleep in, or just spend relaxing with their families.

If anyone will keep Black Friday alive, it’s these folks.

56 comments
MJUTHE1
MJUTHE1

One could get kill on Black Friday going way back into the 1960 in Philadelphia when Police Officers had to deal with the horrific traffic in the streets of Philadelphia, this is where it all began people trying to take advantage of the crazy sales. Police had to control the crowds and traffic it was the beginning of a crazy trend the only difference is today we deal with to many idiots and fool's.

RFish
RFish

The irony of all this, is that retailers are not increasing their sales volume by opening on Thanksgiving day.  All they are doing is diluting their sales volume for Friday, Saturday, & Sunday - while increasing operating cost: Payroll + Electricity etc. for a day they would normally be closed. K-Mart started all of this years ago because they are desperate - other retailers have followed suit because they do not want to loose market-share. The real losers in all of this is the retail employees, who must now give up what used to be a guaranteed day off before the Christmas rush kicked off. This premise that customers have requested earlier shopping for the Christmas holiday is ridiculous. People can start shopping for Christmas on December 26 [for the following Christmas], If retailers set a standard hours of operation, that everyone adhered to - they could reduce their operating cost, improve staffing, -lowering prices to consumers and the public would adapt.

MeganPlisky
MeganPlisky

I think Black Friday is far from dying, although it may be dying in the traditional sense that we consider it. People are starting to prepare earlier than ever, and make wiser and more informed decisions. I think the impulse sale has gone way down, but a new way has surfaced. People are doing more and more research, and seeking the opinion and feedback of peers. If companies want to continue to sell, they should integrate with social shopping networks, where they can establish direct interaction with their actual customers.  Companies like Moodyo are even developing real-time analytics on actual clients for retailers http://mdy.lv/SellMoreOnMoodyo

KatherynFisher
KatherynFisher

I have not shopped on Black Friday in years. For starters I HATE large crowds. Getting in among a bunch of rude people all pushing and shoving to get a bunch of junk few of us want or need that is priced for far more than they are often worth at a way too early hour on a cold day, is just not my idea of fun. Nor is it my idea of how to spend a Thanksgiving weekend. Christmas comes soon enough without ignoring the other holdays between Labor Day and Christmas and giving them their due. I can shop any day, although I refuse to shop on Thanksgiving. I have in fact already put one Christmas gift on layaway, mostly because it has been hinted for in the past and is probably the most expensive item I will purchase this year. The store had them at a good price as well and if I wait until Black Friday they will probably sell out. Also I order quite a bit online.

WilsonKendra
WilsonKendra

Contrary to what anyone has to say, Amazon has the best black friday deals for Christmas. See for yourself: http://amzn.to/1737vHm - I'm talking about up to 90% off of good products. No line, No fighting, No problem.

cliffrichltd
cliffrichltd

Here at Rich Limited http://richltd.com ( We make custom retail displays), we're definitely seeing an uptick in business and some it is related to events like Black Friday. IMHO, there will always be a core group that love the holidays for events like this. They love the experience. 

dsummers4700
dsummers4700

It is about time this STUDID, BUYING FRENZY BY GREEDY MERCHANTS WAS STOPPED.  IT STARTED WITH THE RETURN OF NYLONS STOCKING AFTER WW2,  A STAGED VIDEO IN NEW YORK.  STARTED THE FAD OF PULLING HAIR AND GENERAL RIOTING FOR NEWS MEDIA. PEOPLE BEING KILLED FOR THIS IGNORACE IS PATHETIC.  I HAVE 20 YEARS OF SEEING IT AT THE WORLDS FIRST BIG BOX STORE.    STREET RIOTS IN DOORS.!!! 

Rhomega
Rhomega

Black Friday is the day I watch my first Christmas movie: the Mystery Science Theater 3000 episode "Santa Claus Conquers The Martians".

CheleBrumley
CheleBrumley

If I am not working, which I usually am, "Black Friday" is go nowhere-spend nothing day. Work on your baking list, look through your cupboard and see what you have and what you'll need. Then over the weekend, maybe start shopping for your baking and holiday gifts. Make a second pot of coffee. Enjoy a quiet day at home if you can. Go nowhere, spend nothing day!

ElouiseVanHelsing
ElouiseVanHelsing

The problem with Black Friday is that the sales are lame.  There was NOTHING on sale last BF that was not available for less on the internet before and after BF.  The only place that had decent sales was Sears, and they had a great stock also! Even at 9am they still had everything I wanted and for a good price.  Thanks Sears!

Even Amazon was lame, and a serious disappointment with nothing but boring stuff from regular sale prices.

Drooski
Drooski

Yep, Black Friday is dead. So is the keyboard, the mouse, and every other thing that these idi0t articles have been declaring dead for 2 decades.

travelnjones
travelnjones

This is crazy.  Every year I see black Friday starting earlier and earlier even 9pm on Thanksgiving.  It really seems there is nothing wrong with black Friday people are still nuts for it.


Oddly though its just seen as a fun shopping day by the folks i know.  My family are crackers, we spend the day after thanksgiving putting up a tree or the Christmas lights.  We don't set foot in a mall.  But the Chinese and Indian folks we know love it.  just fun shopping day. If their relatives are not in the area all the better as there is no pressure to spend the holiday with them.

culturetracker
culturetracker

Two words: Shared economy

Consignment & salvage shops & repurposing are winners here. Americans like me have too much stuff and we are downsizing and reusing, making & sharing. Just wait until we can all afford 3D printers!

scooterdie
scooterdie

I think it'll always be around but I hate the name. Too many people think it's racist despite it being an accounting term and I refuse to believe that stores don't make money hand over fist for months before. Much like Boxing Day being a British Commonwealth thing, it's still a day to get bargains anywhere on earth no matter what it's called. 

ckxcore
ckxcore

The research put into this article is embarassingly small. You looked at what, two time periods? You didn't even consider the growth in online Black Friday shopping! Just another easy written article from a lazy author looking for views with a cheap hyped up  title like "Black Friday Is Facing Extinction."

JoeScatone
JoeScatone

Black Friday has always been a jewish controlled attempt to put businesses in the "black" before the end of the year.

amndjn
amndjn

I work retail as a second job, and I would love to see the Black Friday thought process go away. "They consider shopping a sport, and Black Friday as their Super Bowl." The Super Bowl is not the example I would use. It's more like early Friday morning all out Smack Down. People literally throwing punches over items, yelling, cursing, verbally and physically assaulting workers. I personally suffered physically one year from a cart being rammed into my back by a customer because we had sold out of the purple version of a particular toy. The sad thing is that people behave this way in the name of deals that in reality aren't that good of deals at all. I think spreading the holiday shopping season deals out over a period of time is a much better concept. It allows for less stress in the long run for the workers and shoppers. 

shewentwhoa
shewentwhoa

I love Black Friday shopping. But, I don't think it's fair for them (the retailers) to have it on Thanksgiving. Those people deserve to spend time with their families and enjoy delicious food. 

my2cnts
my2cnts

I'm one of those who just enjoy the crowds, the noise, and the tradition it has turned into.  I do think it is wrong that they're opening on Thanksgiving day  because workers should be able to have the whole day of Thanksgiving with their families.  Let us all stand outside at 3 am until the store open at 4 am or later...

PhoebeJeffs
PhoebeJeffs

Just a thought...

Did the so called "Research" include online shopping? I didn't see it mentioned in the article.

sm5574
sm5574

"They consider shopping a sport" ... And for some it's a full-contact sport. I steer clear of any and all retail stores the day after Thanksgiving.

ATLWmn
ATLWmn

It doesn't help that retailers are opening their doors on Thanksgiving Day, thus making Black Friday a day earlier.  Our country is so greedy we can't even give people one holiday off to enjoy their families, friends, or at the very least, a good meal.  It's disgusting.

JenniferBonin
JenniferBonin

Dear Time authors:

A 1% change in human activity between one year and the next DOES NOT imply a statistically meaningful trend.  A trend takes more than two data points to establish, since there's always noise in the signal.  It would be really spiffy if you'd actually spend a few hours studying high school statistics before making strong statements based on the existence of two data points.

Thanks,
An engineer who actually DOES know how statistics work.

Freedumb
Freedumb

Yay for rampant consumerism!


mandycat
mandycat

The Black Friday madness was bad enough but now that the insanity begins even earlier it's worse. There is something sad and creepy about making people work on what is supposed to be an important family holiday.  I spoke with one young soldier whose recently wed wife was scheduled to work from midnight on Wednesday until midnight on Thanksgiving Day itself, selling retail mall schlock.  They missed out on their first holiday together but they need the money and she would have lost her job by refusing.  Yuck.

uaskigyrl
uaskigyrl

I used to enjoy Black Friday...then people started to turn into animals.  No thanks, I'll stick with Cyber Monday.

Xsmokedoutx
Xsmokedoutx

It won't disappear anytime soon.  Too many people like going out at midnight to shop.  It's become an annual event and almost a right of passage.  I know 3 generations of women (and a few guys) that make this a bigger event than Thanksgiving!

BrianBerry
BrianBerry

I hope black friday doesn't disappear. I look forward to it every year.  I got an awesome TV stand one year at walmart :( don't stop black friday stop the deals before black friday!

codahz
codahz

I always went shopping on black friday because it was fun...then people progressively got more annoying about deals that arent even that great of deals. We would be the first in line at Best Buy at 10pm Thanksgiving night...now theres idiots who are there the night before thanksgiving...what fools! As far as the actual deals go, smart shoppers can get them throughout the year online and in store

cgouyonnet
cgouyonnet

the entire concept that black Friday puts retail from "red" to "black" is ludicrous. It shoud actually relate to that most people who shop on black friday are probably black and umemployed

ChrisReeves
ChrisReeves

Consider that Black Friday doesn't even consist of great deals on premium merchandise.  For example, if you go into an electronics store looking for the best price of the year on a Sony or Panasonic TV, you will find a great price but it won't be the best price on that item.  Most stores just bring in the extraordinarily cheap merchandise to fulfill their $29 BluRay player or their $200 Laptop.  As someone who has worked Black Friday for about a decade, it will never be worth it to me to go shopping on that day.

droiddest
droiddest

I don't think these numbers are taking into account hat "Black Friday" has actually become "Black Thursday through Saturday". Sales start at 8 or 9 on Thanksgiving and then every 6 or so hour the sales change. Which is great because it spreads out the Black Friday insanity, but then those sales aren't lumped into one day.

horsley1953
horsley1953

Nobody shops on Black Friday - it is too crowded :-).

Expluribus
Expluribus

@RFish I absolutely agree!  I live in France, where almost no stores open on Sundays or holidays.  Is it inconvenient sometimes? Sure.  But people organize their shopping accordingly.  What's important is protecting employees' quality time with their families.  

scooterdie
scooterdie

@JoeScatone Yeah and giving stuff away for free and almost free makes lots of money. Flagged and reported. 

se123
se123

@JoeScatone that might one of the dumbest comments I've heard in a long time

missdanielle
missdanielle

I fully agree!!  I was one of those people who enjoyed getting up early and shopping on black Friday, but in the past couple years, the crowds have started to drop.  I also hate the term "door buster".  More like "cheaply made junk we make you think is a deal".

ToriGangle
ToriGangle

@JenniferBonin Yes, Statistics say exactly what an entity or person desires them to, and that's usually it's not scientific or accurate.  That's how I understand Stats work!

donvon1204
donvon1204

@JenniferBonin In your statistics classes, did they happen to mention that 1.8 actually rounds up to 2, and not down to 1?  Just curious...


Thanks, 

A banker who enjoys poking fun at snarky commentators.

dsummers4700
dsummers4700

@BrianBerry 

WAS IT WORTH THE LIFE OF A DOOR GREETER, AND ELDERLY MAN, KILLED BY THE STUPIDY OF THE WHOLE THING.???? WHAT IS YOU LIFE WORTH???

thelorax22
thelorax22

@cgouyonnet You are an idiot...go climb back into your hole and don't terrorize the rest of humanity with your stupidity.

JenniferBonin
JenniferBonin

@donvon1204 @JenniferBonin *sigh*  I didn't go back to pick out what the actual number was, because it didn't matter.  The point was, two data points might make a line, but they don't EVER make a meaningful statistic.