Increasingly, Black Friday Is a Day to Stay Home, Not Hit the Mall

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The day after Thanksgiving has become the official kickoff for the holiday shopping season. It’s also become a day to exhibit nonsensical consumer behavior, such as waiting outside for hours in the freezing cold at stores that don’t have special Black Friday discounts. This year, signs indicate that fewer consumers will bother putting up with the chaotic shopping scene on Black Friday.

According to research firm Accenture’s holiday survey, the percentage of shoppers hitting the mall on Black Friday has been on a steady decline:

44 percent of consumers say that they are likely to shop on Black Friday, compared to 47 percent in 2010, and 52 percent in 2009.

These figures are all substantially higher than the estimates given by Consumer Reports, which said that only 24% of consumers actually planned on shopping on Black Friday of 2010, though 44% of consumers said they’d be shopping sometime over the four-day Thanksgiving weekend.

( How to Make the Holidays More Affordable)

Though the data differs greatly, both surveys come to the same conclusion—that the number of shoppers that’ll bother with Black Friday crowds is on the decline.

Why is this? Could it be that more consumers opting to get in on Buy Nothing Day, the anti-consumer celebration that, by no small coincidence, coincides with Black Friday?

Probably not. More likely, consumers are coming to realize that, considering that the holiday shopping season now stretches three-plus months, that deals can and do pop up throughout the season, and that more and more shoppers are browsing for deals online instead of at the mall, Black Friday is a lot of hype and not much payoff.

(MORE: 3 Deals Aimed at Attracting Shoppers for the Entire Holiday Season)

Increasingly Black Friday seems like just another day to shop, not the day to shop. And considering how crowded it is, the argument looks better and better to just stay home and live to shop another day.

A dealnews post bursts 15 of the myths surrounding Black Friday. Despite the assumptions of many consumers, it’s just not true that Black Friday is the busiest shopping day of the year; that Black Friday prices are the lowest shoppers will ever see; nor even that Black Friday deals are limited to a single day. Last year, for instance, there were “Black Friday” offers available both before and after actual Black Friday.

A Retrevo study, meanwhile, wonders whether the widespread popularity of daily deal sites like Groupon and LivingSocial is contributing to waning interest in Black Friday:

Deal addicts don’t have to wait for Black Friday any longer, they can get a deal “fix” whenever they want from companies like Groupon and other deal sites of the world.

If nothing else, daily deals have made 50% off promotions seem mundane, so it’s getting harder and harder for retailers to impress shoppers on Black Friday, or any other day for that matter.

Brad Tuttle is a reporter at TIME. Find him on Twitter at @bradrtuttle. You can also continue the discussion on TIME’s Facebook page and on Twitter at @TIME.
MORE: What to Expect of Black Friday and the Upcoming Holiday Shopping Season