Now that I’ve touted the idea of Black Friday ruining Thanksgiving, let’s look at the concept from a strategic point of view.
From a strictly business perspective, the move by many retailers to start Black Friday earlier in the week is a land grab for more sales. Walmart, for example, is already in Black Friday sales mode and many other retailers are copying the retail giant.
To me, this is clearly a mistake. The appeal of Black Friday isn’t really the sales or bargains. It is the event. It is (or was) an event that told shoppers that they are savvy and fun, even if the whole idea seems crazy to me.
Now, if you go on Black Friday (especially if you go when the doors first open), you feel stupid. The special appeal of the shopping day is now irrelevant, and I think retailers (over time) are going to regret it.
Here’s my thinking: The shopper will now have more options, meaning online enters into the equation more than ever and shoppers have more time to pick out who they want to shop at because they have a week to do so.
For the retail industry as a whole, I guess it makes sense. (Watch for reports that spending was up, which has more to do with the low price of gas – extra money in the pocket – than this strategy.) But not for the individual competitors who decided to play defense once Walmart moved into the longer time frame. Those retailers just don’t want to be shut out.
But the overload of purchases on Black Friday will diminish. There’s simply no reason to wake up at 4 am, stand in line, storm the store and spend all your shopping money at one (or two) spots.
The retail industry is extremely competitive, which is why, when one retailer makes a move, everyone follows. But now there is an opportunity for a large retailer (it has to be one that has some preference) to own Black Friday again.
I don’t know if eventually someone will grab that opportunity because it’s an industry that has a hard time with differentiation. But the opportunity will be there for the taking. The urgency is now gone and the spending dollars will even out among the retailers. However, some will lament that Black Friday has now become Black Week.