Black Friday, the day after Thanksgiving in the U.S., was the day when families traditionally start their main Christmas shopping. Retailers lured shoppers with huge discounts, offering once-a-year deals on select products.
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Most of the time, these discounts were truly special for Black Friday, and people even camped out at stores to get that special deal.
Mostly, retailers used the loss-leader deals to attract foot traffic in the store in the hope to sell shoppers more products that made a profit. It was a game and everyone knew it, but people took part because it was fun and the savings were special.
But with the rise of eCommerce, retail strategies in general and especially for Black Friday have changed.
While families often still use the Friday after Thanksgiving to go shopping together, one has to question the sanity of going out on this day and embarking on a shopping spree with savings that are at best very questionable.
For the last couple of weeks, I have been shopping at a mall near me because my daughter needed heavier clothing for College as she is attending a school in a cold climate state. (We live in Florida)
I was trying to get a feel for what was available here and sent her images so she could get an idea of which stores we would go shopping at.
While she is a child of the Internet age, she still likes to touch and feel clothing. She also needed heavier boots she wanted to try before buying.
Without a car, it limits her options at College, so the best choice was to go shopping here in Florida during her Thanksgiving break week.
You may ask, they sell winter clothes in Florida? The answer is yes.
South Florida has a lot of visitors from cold climates, therefore many of the larger malls offer winter clothing often offering better deals than can be found “up north.”
The point of this story is that what struck me at the mall is the number of discounts that were offered already in early November. Many stores advertised 40 to 70 percent off deals or buy one and get one free deals well before Black Friday.
I walked into a well-known high-end brand name store and everything in the store was 70 percent off, plus an additional 10 percent if I spent $200 that day. This was two weeks ago on a Saturday!
In my five visits to this mall this month, there was no shortage of deals at any given time, even at 10 am in the morning on a Wednesday.
This begs the question if retailers are already offering huge discounts well before Black Friday, what possibly could they offer on Black Friday that is a better discount? Or at least a discount worth my time to battle the crowds.
Besides Black Friday being a day for shopping with the family, it seems discounts can’t be the draw anymore.
Who in their right mind wants to deal with the chaos of Black Friday to save a few pennies over savings offered during other times of the year?
eCommerce Deep Discount Marketing Starts Early in November
eCommerce retailers have sensed for a while now they need to get ahead of Black Friday and advertised huge discounts well before Black Friday.
Let’s look at a few of this year’s promotions from companies we covered:
- Amazon Deals started on November 16
- eBay Deals started on November 19
- Etsy Deals started on November 20
And these deals are beside the emails I received from Target, Best Buy, and many other retailers dating back to earlier in the month offering me “pre-Black Friday” deals.
Retailers have adapted to the pre-Black Friday push and now are offering specials and sales well before the “big day.”
For example, Costco has been offering a $50 discount on a 128GB iPad until November 18. No other retailer offered this same deal!
Best Buy sent me an email on Monday advertising $150 off a $350 product from a well-known brand and the deal was valid on that day only.
It is a product I have never seen advertised at such a discount before. (I am not mentioning this item as I bought it as a Christmas gift.)
Target has bombarded me with emails offering $10 off $50 on popular gift items and other similar savings for weeks now.
If finding a deal is important for Christmas shopping, then it appears paying attention to the promotions by off- and online retailers before Black Friday may offer as good if not better savings than on Black Friday, but without the madness.
eCommerce to Blame
Without a doubt, the whole Black Friday experience has changed and Black Friday is no longer the shopping experience it once was. Perhaps it has been ruined by eCommerce forever.
eCommerce’s transformation of the shopping day to a “shopping month” has clearly impacted the entire retail world forcing traditional retailers to play the same
For bargain shoppers, Black Friday doesn’t appear to be the best day of the year anymore, on- and offline.
While the crowds will still be huge, it seems Black Friday in malls and at retailers is more about following a “family tradition of shopping” and less about finding that one special item at a never-seen-before price.
Black Friday as we knew before eCommerce is gone and is part of a retail history that will not come back.
And in countries that just recently joined the madness, foot traffic may even be slowing down because there is no “family tradition” of going shopping on this day.
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