Holiday shopping: Retailers embrace ‘Black November’
“Black Friday is no longer the bargainshopping bacchanal it once was,” said Kate Taylor in BusinessInsider.com. More than half of Americans say they are less likely to head to the mall on the day after Thanksgiving this year than they were in years past, according to Accenture’s annual Holiday Shopping Survey. And it’s not just the earlymorning crowds or parking hassles that are convincing shoppers to stay home. It’s “simply that bargain shopping has become a year-round event.” Nearly two-thirds of survey respondents said they shop for holiday presents throughout the year, and don’t feel the need to shop on Black Friday or even Cyber Monday—the Monday after Thanksgiving—because “they can get equally good discounts on other days.” You can thank Amazon for this shift, said Dhani Mau in Fashionista.com. Gone are the days when “driving to a store, waiting in line, and even risking physical harm” was necessary to grab a holiday bargain.
The holidays still loom large for retailers’ bottom line, though, and in the anxious race to win over shoppers, stores are “trying to fast-forward” what is still the year’s biggest shopping weekend, said Abha Bhattarai in The Washington Post. Competition anxiety has recently compelled them to open on Thanksgiving itself to attract the most serious bargain hunters. This year, they’ve shifted discounts “even earlier,” hoping to lock in sales during “the crucial fourth quarter, which can account for up to 40 percent of a retailer’s annual revenue.” Best Buy began offering Black Friday discounts last week on hundreds of items, including TVs, Apple Watches, and tablets. “Walmart followed a day later, with $6 pajamas and $998 Samsung TVs.” Chains such as Sears and Kmart have also moved their sales forward “out of fear of being left behind.” Let’s all agree that the term ‘Black Friday’ “has no meaning now,” said Abby Hamblin in The San Diego Union- Tribune. “They should just call it Black November.”
Despite all the maneuvers, brick-and-mortar stores are expecting to “lose more ground” this holiday season to e-commerce, said James Peltz in the Los Angeles Times. Online holiday sales this year will likely top $100 billion for the first time, with $6.6 billion estimated for Cyber Monday, which would make it “the largest online-shopping day” in U.S. history. What consumers are looking to buy should determine when they shop, said Charisse Jones in USA Today, and despite the early deals this year, they’d be smart to “bide their time.” Shoppers looking for the best deals on TVs, jewelry, tablets, and a ppliances should “wait until Black Friday,” while Cyber Monday will “feature the season’s biggest price drops on toys.” And if you are willing to hop online in between helpings of turkey on Thanksgiving Day, you’ll be rewarded with the “best bargains on computers, video games, sporting goods, tools, and clothing.” ■