Is Black Friday Shopping Dead?
Written by: Mark Plante Published On: November 21, 2022

Is Black Friday even a thing today?

Black Friday Shopping… Some love it, some despise it. Whatever your feelings are, is it really something to even take notice of anymore?

What is Black Friday

It is rumored that the first time that the term “Black Friday” was used was in the city of Philadelphia in the 1960’s. It is said that the term came from so many tourists coming to the city for the annual Army-Navy football game which was held on the Saturday after Thanksgiving. It is said that Philadelphia Police Officers coined the term Black Friday due to the long hours and terrible traffic, weather and crowds that they would encounter on that day.

Local retailers wanted to capitalize on the crowds to bring them in the stores and to kick off the Christmas shopping season. Though retailers did not want to use the term “Black Friday” due to the similarity of “Black Tuesday”, which is know as the date that the Stock Market crashed in 1929 and the start of the Great Depression of the 1930’s. Knowing this, retailers at the time referred to the day after Thanksgiving as “Big Friday”, but the name never stuck. Retailers would instead explain that “Black Friday” was the day when stores would start to show a profit during the year, thus turning the red ink to Black ink.

Popularity

From the 1960’s each year, Black Friday became more and more popular. It was the perfect way for retailer to get shoppers in their store. Most having the day after Thanksgiving off.

In the 1980’s and 1990’s Retailers started competing with each other to lure shoppers into their stores. Lower prices, additional services and earlier opening times. Crowds really started showing up at the wee hours of the morning to get in line to get the best “Doorbuster Deals” that were available. They would offer products at ridiculously low prices, but they were only available in limited quantities and in a certain timeframe (i.e. 5am – 11am).

Enter Online Shopping

In the late 2000’s and early 2010’s online shopping started to boom. Now “Black Friday” prices were not only for those that got up early on the Friday after Thanksgiving, they were available to shoppers in the comfort of their own homes. In some states, stores were even opening up on Thanksgiving Day, and in those states that did not allow this, they would open up at 12:01 am on Friday, offering deep discounts to those who put down their turkey legs and shut off the football games and went into the store on the holiday. At this point, Black Friday had become a national holiday. Toward the end of the 2010’s, shoppers would come from foreign countries just for the deals that were offered, just as the original tourists descended on Philadelphia in the 1960’s.

One of the problems that came along with the popularity of Black Friday was crime and violence. Many stories and videos circulated about stampedes that happened when doors were opened and employees being injured or trampled. Fights would break out among adults that were trying to get the products that were on sale and there were many reports of robberies of those waiting in the lines for the stores to open.

2020… The Beginning of the End

We all know what happened in 2020. There we few stores that had any sales on Black Friday, 2020. Unable to handle the crowds so that shoppers we able to maintain a 6 foot distance would be next to impossible. Stores were starting to push sales toward their online websites. Supply chain issues caused most retailers to only have limited stock. The COVID pandemic was truly the beginning of the end of TRUE Black Friday shopping.

Black Friday in 2022

Retailers have changed their strategy this year. Rather than having deep discounts on one day, they have spread out the discounts, at a less amount, throughout the month of November. Stores are now closed, for the most part, on Thanksgiving Day (as they should be). Also, those stores that would open at 12:01am on the Friday, have gone back to the 5 or 6am openings of the past. Discounts that in the past would be up 90% off, have been replaced with a month-long sale of 25-30% off products whose priced were raised 30% in October.

Is Black Friday Dead

Is Black Friday Dead? Right now, I would say no, but it is on life support. There are no longer the deep discounts as there were in the past. The variety of merchants has dwindled down to only a few major box stores. Also, the variety of merchandise that is offered is now what it once was. Basically, the main things that are in all “Doorbuster Ads” are smart TVs, cellphones and computers.

I believe that if retailers continue to proceed in the way that they are offering Black Friday discounts and offerings, the “National Holiday” will cease to exist in not too many years.

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