Is Black Friday Relevant Anymore?

A week from today, we will be inundated with stories, images and videos of long lines and frantic masses grappling over the latest tech gadgets and door busters. There is no doubt that big box retailers like Walmart, Target and Best Buy still rely on this “tradition” to drive traffic, interest and excitement with the hopes of kicking off and keeping the sales momentum going through the end of the year.

But, is Black Friday relevant anymore? Sure, those images say yes, but the reality might point to no.

Here are three reasons why:

1. It’s not just Friday anymore

For the past several years, we’ve witnessed an increasing number of retailers opening on Thanksgiving Day. What was once a day reserved for family, food and football, has now become just an early-bird version of Black Friday. And while there is always the inevitable discussion on whether it’s the right or wrong thing to do, this once strategic, albeit controversial differentiator has now become the norm, with this year seeing numerous retailers, including such major retailers as Walmart, Target, Kohl’s and Best Buy opening on Thanksgiving.

2. Online penetration continues to trend upward

This graph from Statista compares the online revenue in the United States on Thanksgiving and Black Friday from 2008 to 2017. On Black Friday 2017, US online revenues amounted to 2.36 billion US dollars, up from 1.97 billion US dollars in the previous year. 2018 will no doubt continue this trend.

3. People visiting stores are trending down

A report from RetailNext Inc. that analyzed in-store videos to count the shoppers shows that In 2017, the number of people visiting stores on Black Friday and Thanksgiving declined 4 percent from 2016.

And in another report from Harris Poll and OpenX shows that Six in 10 shoppers think Black Friday is overwhelming, and 59% plan to skip it and instead, shift their holiday spending online.
As the retail world continues to shift and modernize, the traditions of the past continue to come under pressure.

What was once an annual event for Baby Boomers is not a consideration for millennials. The data shows that Black Friday is becoming, if not irrelevant, then increasingly concentrated. Specialty retailers are no longer trying to compete with the Walmart’s and Targets of the world and are merely extending hours for Friday morning. All the evidence points to the fact that Black Friday is no longer a relevant event for most of the brick-and-mortar retailers.

Do you agree? Let us know in the comments section.

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Andrew Taylor has over 20 years’ experience running operations at Fortune 500 companies. He is now a Senior Director at Connors Group. Andrew leverages his deep experience in retail strategy and operations and consulting to craft innovative solutions for clients. He can be reached at [email protected]
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