After Thanksgiving was safely digested, and the last of the leftovers stuffed safely into the refrigerator, many Americans engaged in the annual ceremony of bailing on family time in favor of quality savings. This celebration is otherwise known as the capitalist holiday of Black Friday.
In a sign of the decaying times, according to research firm ShopperTrak, total sales on Black Friday dropped by 10% this year compared to last year.
Is this a serious sign of coming weakness in our national economy? Are oil prices surging? Nothing quite so dramatic I have to say.
Black Friday goes global
Satirists have often made fun of how humanity tends to use the gift of technology in very petty and seemingly mundane ways, despite the fact that we’re more connected and communicative than we’ve been. But if there’s one thing we apparently take very seriously in our use of technology, it’s applying new tools to the spread of old-fashioned American capitalism.
Instead of waiting outside at ungodly hours or rushing in on a Friday morning. Most shoppers this year opted to actually stay at home with their full stomachs and browse through sales at their own leisure from the comfort of their own homes.
Furthermore, companies are actively advertising their sales weeks in advance online, and several online retailers even offered “pre-Black Friday” sales anyway. The end result appears to be a devolution of America’s decades-old shopping holiday into a kind of broad sales week leading up to Black Friday and into Cyber Monday.
To put it into perspective, the National Retail Federation said 103 million people shopped online over the holiday weekend compared to the 102 million in stores.
While sales on Black Friday itself have dropped this year, it’s apparent that online shopping is on the rise with online sales apparently jumping 14.3 percent, according to Adobe Digital Index. The drop in Black Friday sales isn’t necessarily harming retailers, as many sales are merely moving to their online distribution platforms.
Welcome to the future, man
What could this mean for us leading into future sales holidays? Well, for one thing, it appears that the idea of a limited single-day super sale is fading away into a broader sales period.
Analysts and coupon sites are going to continue tracking the best deals and finding the steepest discounts. However, the focus of their attention is likely going to drift towards online distribution as companies offer deals earlier, and let them draw out later in the week.
Simultaneously, brick-and-mortar retailers may start losing their traditional edge around this time; this year Amazon offered the steepest deals and lowest prices. According to a study by 360pi, Amazon offered the lowest price on nearly 80 percent of over 7,000 items vetted by the digital research firm.
The excitement and rush of the Black Friday sales of yore may be going the way of the dinosaur as our generation’s technological savvy allows us to shop safely from the comfort of our own homes.