Welcome to America’s Black Friday. I say that cause it is an American thing even though Thanksgiving as an event, is not exclusively American. The rigid placement of Black Friday in the US calendar and it becoming the kick off to Christmas shopping en-mass has placed Black Friday as one of the busiest shopping days each year.
Notice I said one of. It is often but not always. Before 2005, the busiest day was the last Saturday before Christmas. In 2005, retailers started a media blitz to get you into their stores first. Since it was a day most have off work and school it works well. Since 2005, Black Friday has been the biggest shopping day usually but it’s dominance is declining.
The rise of ecommerce has shifted the weights a bit and is making over all volume per major shopping day less impressive. This Black Friday pattern is an American thing as stated. In England, the heaviest shopping days FOLLOW Christmas.
Heavy contenders for busiest shopping days in the US are the last Saturday before Christmas and Saturday after black Friday as more and more people avoid Black Friday. Thanksgiving is a much bigger holiday in the States than in other countries and theirs are at different times based on harvests.
One of the myths involving Black Friday is that this is when retailers go into the black, break a profit. No. Most make a profit all year long otherwise their quarterlies would inspire mass sell off of stocks, for those that are publically held. Making a profit for only 5 weeks of the year is not business, that’s bankruptcy. Black Friday is just a marketing race to your bank account. Which means that they assume rightfully, the earlier you shop, the more you will buy.
In related news; for most of my life I have KNOWN that travel around Thanksgiving is the worst. Nope. As far as travel over all, Christmas is worse. Flying on a Friday over summer Holiday weekends is the worst all year. Most any summer weekend has more people traveling than Thanksgiving weekend. There is some miss information also about weather. Yes winter weather can add to delays but that’s is rather rare by comparison to say, when Republic Air bought Frontier and cut the flight crews by ¼ without cutting flights. They just let them cancel, full.
One of the other myths is generally provable but also a product of my own observation. The idea of Black Fridays is SALE SALE SALE. In some contexts it is. Electronics? Yes. In most other areas of consumer goods, no. The marketing push started in ’05 by big box department stores. They used male driven consumer goods to draw everyone into the stores via big sales. The prices of other good are usually the same as a month before. Or HIGHER!
The marketing is the difference maker. Here is a non Christmas example. Ultimate Electronics was the only real competitor to Best Buy who now owns the market. When UE went out of business they had a huge media blitz for clearance sales. I had bought a laptop and dishwasher there only a short time before and the prices were very good so I went back.
The prices were JACKED. They were not only higher, they were MUCH higher. Yet people were in line at the registers buying 2-3 TVs and computers and whatever. Thousands to tens of thousands of dollars in line at the register. All, at a HUGE mark up. Out of curiosity I wrote some prices down and went to Best buy. They were cheaper at Best Buy at their everyday prices.
So Black Friday is more marketing than anything and I just don’t get it. To go shopping at 4am to get prices that likely are no cheaper than a month ago, except on select items, makes no sense to me. Why not got on Saturday in October and be done with it?? I have a friend who plays the Little Drummer Boy Challenger every year and invites me. I really should. I spend so little time in stores in the Christmas season I’d almost never hear it.
Except when I play it at home.