What Happened to Black Friday?

What Happened to Black Friday?

It wasn’t very long ago that Black Friday, the day after the U.S. holiday, Thanksgiving, was seen as the high holy day for consumer spending. It used to mean getting up early and heading down to your local department store to take part in the action packed shopping frenzy that resulted in deep discounts for customers and increased bottom lines for retailers. Today, however, the lines are blurred and consumer and retailer obsession with holiday shopping has brought us to a point where we don’t even know when Black Friday starts or ends anymore?

Traditionally, lining up at midnight on Black Friday at stores such as Macy’s and Wal-Mart would give you the deal of the year on luxurious linens or a big screen TV. Nowadays, it almost seems that if you are waiting until the day after Thanksgiving, then you are late to the party and run the risk of your coveted merchandise being sold out.


Many companies now offer pre-Black Friday deals during the week leading up to Thanksgiving in addition to the deals offered during Cyber Week. That’s two full weeks of retailers begging consumers to spend their fixed holiday budgets with them as opposed to their competitors.

That doesn’t even include the weeks of hype delivered through marketing emails and in-store signage that comes before, or the post Black Friday/Cyber week sales that seem to be offered all the way through the end of December. And how is a retailer supposed to convince a potential customer to spend with them? Forget about free shipping or “buy online, pick up in store”, customers already expect retailers to offer that. If not offered, then retailers may be disqualifying themselves right from the start.

“..consumer and retailer obsession with holiday shopping has brought us to a point where we don’t even know when Black Friday starts or ends anymore?”

During the holiday shopping season, it’s all about the deals, and in many cases, that means one thing and one thing only. Price. People aren’t busting down doors at 3 AM or furiously typing away on their keyboard during checkout to pay full price. They want the best deal and they aren’t afraid to find the retailer who is willing to offer them that. So, how do retailers combat a seemingly endless arena of competitors? They offer price matching. Brands such as Nordstrom, Target and Best Buy are just a few examples of retailers who offer year round price matching. If you can get your potential customer to your store or website, a price match is one good to keep them there.

The price match offer is one of the ways in which Black Friday went from a single day of shopping to year-round sport. The other is mid-year Black Friday deals. When people think of Black Friday, they probably don’t think of the month of July. But when they hear the term “Black Friday in July”, they instantly think of deals, deals and more deals.

3. Attracting New Customer Segments

B2C seizing B2B Opportunities

As well as their traditional adversaries, B2B companies are now competing against massive online marketplaces, such as Amazon, Alibaba and Ebay, who are revolutionising B2B commerce. B2B relationships are moving from a one-to-many to a many-to-many model; the average B2B customer will conduct 12 searches via a search engine before even engaging with a specific brand’s site. Companies who have already mastered SEO as part of B2C commerce are much better placed, from a technology perspective, to adapt to the needs of a B2B customer base.

It all started in 2015 when Amazon created Prime Day. Prime Day is a full day (30 hours to be exact) chock-full of deals and deep discounts, four and half months before Thanksgiving. Only Amazon could have created their own shopping holiday that generates more sales for the company than any other day in the year. That includes Black Friday and Cyber Monday. Since everyone competes with Amazon (and if your company doesn’t, then you may want to re-run your competitive analysis), the only logical thing to do was for other retailers such as Macy’s, Best Buy, Kohl’s, Wal-Mart, Dick’s Sporting Goods, JCPenney and many others to jump on the bandwagon and offer Black Friday and Cyber deals in July.

It will be interesting to see where we go from here. Will all of the mid-year sales hurt retailers in the upcoming holiday season? Or will customers have a short-term memory and forget about what they bought in the summer? Will Amazon create more exclusive shopping days throughout the year, maybe tied to their specific business units? Only time will answer those questions, but for now, I’m looking forward to the inevitable “Black Friday in March” deals!

About Tacit Knowledge

Tacit Knowledge develops, integrates, and supports enterprise software for household name brands and retailers. Together with our parent, Pitney Bowes, we offer solutions across all consumer touchpoints, from device to doorstep. We connect the entire ecosystem of our customers’ digital commerce business. We build and support the Ecommerce website and associated technologies through to providing fulfillment (Pick & Pack, Kitting) through to Delivery, Returns, and Post-purchase customer engagement tools.
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