For over 80 years, Black Friday has been one of the most important days in U.S. retailing. Not only do retailers consider the day after Thanksgiving to be the kickoff day for the holiday selling season, but it is also one of the highest revenue generating days of the entire year. Retailers are so fixated on having a strong Black Friday performance that promotional spending to attract customers to their outlets is enormous with retailers spending millions on TV spots, multi-page newspaper inserts, online coupons, special mobile apps and much more. Add this to excessive media coverage and unrelenting social network postings, and it is easy to see why Black Friday is considered by many retailers to be more of a national event than a single shopping day.
The leader in redefining Black Friday is mass retailer Walmart. It started back in 2011 when they moved the start of Black Friday from Friday to Thanksgiving night at 10 pm. The next year, Walmart and several other retailers opened their doors even earlier at 8 pm. In 2013, Walmart further muddled the perception of what Black Friday means by promoting online deals nearly four weeks in advance of Thanksgiving. With all the changes Walmart and other retailers have made, we wondered last year if Black Friday will even be relevant within ten years.
Well, another year brings another story that once again seems to support the idea that Black Friday, as a special day, may soon be dead. According to USA Today, electronics retailer RadioShack will officially have its in-store Black Friday sales start on the Wednesday before Thanksgiving. While this announcement is probably not that impactful, given how poorly RadioShack has done in recent years, it will almost certainly create attention and could lead other retailers to offer Black Friday deals in their stores before Thanksgiving.
However, while it is pretty clear Black Friday is quickly being viewed more like an extended sales event rather than a specific sales day, it should be noted that not all retailers are on board with the importance of Black Friday. Just a few weeks ago outdoor retailer REI said it was not going to open on Black Friday and instead is encouraging its customers to use this day to go outside and be active. While REI obtained a good deal of publicity for their decision not to open, so far it does not seem to be an idea other retailers are embracing.