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Is Black Friday as Popular as It Used to Be?

Nov. 14, 2014
Black Friday, Shopping
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As prevalent as it has become, Black Friday is no longer the only player in the holiday shopping arena. Now that there are also shopping promotions on Thanksgiving Day, Cyber Monday and Super Saturday, along with all sorts of other holiday shopping promotions, is Black Friday as popular as it used to be? Has the day lost some of its holiday magic?

The answer? Yes and no. Black Friday is still the seasonal shopping titan that it’s always been, but it has evolved over the years and become something much different from what it once was.

Black Friday … Season

Forget the 12 Days of Christmas. In recent years, the holiday theme song has seemingly become the 12 Days of Black Friday. We’ve all seen the images – shoppers trampling one another at the crack of dawn on Black Friday as they make their way into a store stocked with spectacular sales. If this was once Black Friday, it’s certainly not anymore. It’s undeniable that Black Friday has transformed into more of a season than a single shopping day.

Believe it or not, it’s now rare that Black Friday discounts actually begin on Black Friday. Instead, starting in 2010, stores began releasing deals on Thanksgiving Day. And retailers aren’t joining the Black Friday creep trend – as it’s called – for no reason. Where doors are open, shoppers have responded. From 6 to 10 p.m. on Thanksgiving Day 2013, Walmart alone processed more than 10 million register transactions, according to CBS News. Last year’s 6 p.m. opening time was the earliest ever for the discount retail giant.

Plus, sometimes price cuts begin well before Black Friday. In 2013, Sears as well as the Disney Store introduced sales a whole week early, according to TIME. And based on a 2014 RetailMeNot Shoppers Trend Report survey, nearly 1 in 4 Americans (22%) view early Black Friday shopping as a practice that gives people something fun thing to do on Thanksgiving Day. Thanksgiving sales have not caused a lack of Black Friday luster; they’ve just accentuated the deal-shopping extravaganza.

Virtually Successful

We know that both the start time and length of Black Friday deals have certainly changed, but what about purchasing patterns? For their part, Black Friday shoppers, too, have done some changing.

So exactly how many shoppers have been dashing through the stores on Black Friday in recent years? Figures compiled by Statistic Brain help paint the picture. The total spent on Black Friday 2013 was $57.4 billion, a slight decline from the $59.1 billion in 2012, but still significantly more than 2011’s $52.4 billion. Thus, it appears Black Friday is far from obscure when it comes to popularity, as spending is still significant.

What continues to contribute to the morphing of Black Friday, however, is the rise of the online marketplace. Forget just brick-and-mortar stores; more and more shoppers are opting to dash through virtual stores. While overall consumer spending actually decreased last year, the amount of online spending rose. In fact, both online Black Friday shopping and online Thanksgiving Day shopping sales have increased each successive year since 2009.

In 2013, online shoppers spent more than $1.3 billion on Black Friday alone. Compare this with the just over $1 billion expended via online transactions on the same day in 2012.

Consumers took to their computers on Thanksgiving with greater force, too. The 2013 online Turkey Day spending was $754 million, more than the $681 million from 2012. This also demonstrates that while online shoppers are certainly spending on Thanksgiving, they still reserve a majority of their purchases for Black Friday itself.

What will happen in 2014? Likely more of the same trends – earlier opening times and increased reliance on online sales. Judging by the seasonal hiring figures released by retailers – which indicate more temporary positions in general and specifically more temporary jobs in fulfillment centers – stores are anticipating not only more spending in 2014, but also more online sales transactions this Nov. 28.

Still a Shining Holiday

Regardless of the day or method consumers use to shop, they are still partaking in Black Friday shopping. So, whether or not you’ll be one of the millions joining in on the famed shopping day (or season) this year, when you think Black Friday, you can still think of a popular shopping period. But no longer in the traditional sense.



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