Every year, Black Friday falls on the day after Thanksgiving and it is known as a day of huge discounts and shoppers lined up around the block. Whatever your personal opinion of Black Friday may be, there is no denying that it has become an integral part of the Thanksgiving holiday. Perhaps even more so than football and the Macy's day parade.
And some estimates have shown that the Black Friday weekend generates 15 percent of all the sales in November and December. Let’s look more closely at the history of Black Friday and what consumers can expect in 2017.
Now, Black Friday is also a time where banks have thrown their hats in the ring with the promotion of their rewards cards which have been dubbed Black Friday credit card deals. Typically, these credit card offers come with sign-up bonuses that have been introduced with the intention to attract new customers. In most cases, these Black Friday bonuses do not disappoint.
A brief history of Black Friday:
In the 1950’s, it became popular for many employees to call in sick on the day after Thanksgiving. That way workers could have a four-day weekend and get a head start on their Christmas shopping.
As this trend increased, many employers started making the Friday after Thanksgiving a holiday as well. This seemed easier than trying to determine who was sick and who wasn’t.
The name Black Friday was coined in 1966 by the Philadelphia Police Department. They used this term as a way to describe the chaos that ensued in the downtown area every year on the day after Thanksgiving.
There were no sentimental feelings involved in coming up with this nickname. But rather, the police experienced a sense of dread about the all-day traffic jams and crowded streets in the downtown area.
Black Friday is now known as the day that pushes most retailers from the red into the black every year. 30 percent of all yearly retail sales occur between Black Friday and Christmas. And traditionally, Black Friday sales have increased 3.4 percent each year.
Let’s look at a few Black Friday statistics over the years. In 2014, the average customer spent $380. In 2015, the average customer spent $299. In 2016, the average customer spent $289
And while many retailers made out big in 2016, the biggest growth happened online. In 2016, Thanksgiving and Black Friday set new records for online sales.
Black Friday used to be a big event for many consumers. It was the day they would wake up before the sun came up and hit the stores, hoping to find great deals. And while this does still happen, Black Friday sales estimates have fallen short of what retailers expected in the past few years.
Many people have become disenchanted with Black Friday. This is largely due to the decision many stores made to stay open on Thanksgiving. And increasingly, stores are taking a stand against Black Friday.
In 2014, many consumers lashed out at companies like Target, Macy’s, and Walmart for choosing to open on Thanksgiving Day. There were social media campaigns with hashtags like “Boycott Black Thursday.” And someone started a Change.org petition entitled, “Just say no to Black Thursday.”
Stores like Nordstrom and Costco have pledged to stay closed on Thanksgiving. And some brands have even chosen to opt out of Black Friday altogether. For instance, REI plans to close its doors on Black Friday and promote its Opt Outside campaign.
So as November draws closer it is worth asking -- does Black Friday still matter?
And as sales have continued to decline Black Friday no longer clearly stands out as the kickoff to the holiday shopping season. Online retailers have begun offering big discounts throughout the entire month of November. Retailers like Amazon, Walmart, and Target have started launching their holiday sales the minute Halloween is over.
But regardless of the pushback, there is no doubt that many consumers still enjoy the deep discounts that Black Friday has to offer. However, there are certain trends that are continuing to grow. Increasingly, consumers are gravitating toward online sales rather than in-store Black Friday doorbuster sales.
Traditionally, shoppers would wake up early on Black Friday and wait in long lines for the stores to open. But increasingly, shoppers are ditching the stores (and the long lines) and shopping from the comfort of their own home.
In 2016, fewer shoppers actually showed up in the stores on Black Friday than they did in 2015. However, retailers reported record online shopping numbers over the four-day weekend. What many stores have lacked in foot traffic, they made up for in online sales.
A survey from the National Retail Foundation showed that in 2016, 108.5 million people shopped online. This is in addition to the 99.1 million shoppers who actually went to the stores. In 2015, the numbers for online and in-store shoppers broke even.
Last year, Cyber Monday surpassed Black Friday online sales numbers by over $100 million. And in 2016, Black Friday became the first day that shoppers spent over $1 billion in revenue just from their phone. As a result, retailers who had invested in mobile technology saw a 30 percent increase in sales and 25 percent higher average order values.
So what will Black Friday 2017 be like? Most experts agree that online sales will continue to increase from 2016. It has been predicted that online Black Friday and Thanksgiving spending will increase to $5.57 billion in 2017.
Black Friday will likely continue to have a place with many consumers. However, the day has lost some of its excitement over the past few years. This is largely due to the increase in online shopping. And many retailers now offer big discounts starting on November 1st and continuing until Christmas.
Traditionally, if consumers slept in on Black Friday they missed out on all the discounts. But now most people know that even if they skip Black Friday they can find a deal online in the coming weeks.
And all of this is good news for both consumers and retailers. Consumers and their shopping habits have changed so retail trends must change with them. It may be fair to say that Black Friday is far from over, it’s simply adapting to the times.