Thanksgiving is a time of tradition for Americans – spending time with friends and family, eating more than we know we should, and shopping. Retailers have capitalized on our passion for finding deals prior to the Christmas holiday by creating the Black Friday phenomenon. My wife is about as close as you can get to a professional shopper and Black Friday was always a big day for us. Well, more for her than me. My job was to go into the store and immediately get in line while she did the shopping. This became a tradition for us but that tradition has started to shift over the past two years. The battle between online and brick-and-mortar retail has changed the dynamics of Black Friday. Retailers are looking for any way to capture a sale which means pushing sales earlier, posting information earlier, and offering deals both online and in-store. As a result, the frantic crowds that typified Black Friday in the past are no longer as common.
This change in behavior has led some to declare Black Friday mania as a thing of the past. This article from the LA Times argues just that. The article talks about the reduced crowds in-store but also discusses how this can lead to a better customer experience for those that do show up. Another article on Bloomberg shares some statistics that show the impact of Black Friday is still significant despite the lower in-store traffic. This year 115 million Americans were expected to shop on Black Friday. Online sales are expected to top $5B on Friday, an increase of 16.4% over last year. Whether you believe Black Friday mania is gone or just as alive as ever, these articles show that businesses can never stand still and must be able to adapt to changes in competitors as well as consumer behavior.