Tim Wood | November 30, 2015 3:35 PM ET
It's Time To Kill Black Friday
I have worked retail. I have seen the lines, I have been trampled by the madness that is Black Friday.
That one day alone drove me away from retail, so I guess in a weird way, I should be thankful to the throngs of “savvy shoppers” that turned my stomach and led me down another life path.
As a shopper, I have never understood the value of shopping Black Friday. And the more I see of how the travel industry handles the day, I think it’s time to officially get rid of this ugly reminder of the depths we’ll sink to as a human race.
There once were lines that greedy corporate America didn’t cross. Being open on Thanksgiving and Christmas Day was one of those sacred no-no’s that have been abandoned in search of every extra ounce of profit that can pad executive’s bonus checks.
While we were in a recession, employers held all the cards. Everyone was merely afraid to lose their job, so they did whatever they needed to. We’ve moved past that ugly time, thankfully. Now, fast-food workers are organizing to get the minimum wage raised and retailers find themselves having to fight to keep their best employees.
And still, there’s this mess that is Black Friday that has now become Black Thanksgiving. Studies consistently show that the best deals are never had on Black Friday. Sure, the big-box stores might have that no-name 50-inch flat screen TV for $12 for the first 50 customers, but by and large, the best deals on name-brand products are either online or at the brick-and-mortar stores the closer you get to Christmas.
Just like we’ve seen the Christmas window consistently expanded so now you’re seeing product on shelves before Halloween, so too it is with Black Friday.
Retailers are running Black Friday deals all month long. They run doorbusters just about every weekend nowadays. The novelty of the event that is the in-person, must-wait-in-line Black Friday is gone, people. Gone.
The same deals are online. No camping out overnight, no getting trampled once that sacrificial employee comes to open the doors.
Retailers like REI actually closed on Black Friday. Hallelujah. It wasn’t just goodwill, folks. There was business logic there.
Cyber Monday was originally started as a way for online-only retailers to get a piece of the Black Friday pie. Now, all the brick-and-mortar stores are offering the same deals online as they do in-person on Black Friday and they’re offering their own Cyber Monday deals.
Meanwhile, the travel industry has known all along what traditional retailers are just getting hip to – folks do not like the hassle of Black Friday. Travel giants from Carnival to Virgin Atlantic to Marriott offered great deals online, further adding to the virtual appeal of Black Friday.
It feels like the only one that benefits from this madness nowadays is the media and the viral surfer of the Web. The hoard and the trampling provides great filler for the TV networks and content that immediately goes viral online. It’s a rite of passage to show the train wreck that we don’t want to watch but can’t look away from.
Thankfully, the numbers are there. Depending on what numbers you believe, the immediate measure that companies like ShopperTrak do to put a bow on Black Friday for the media show that Black Friday in-store sales dropped anywhere from $200 million to $2 billion this year.
Analysts are finally jumping onboard with the reality that the civilized among us have known all along. The advantage to getting up at 4 a.m. to get to the stores has turned into a nightmare for shoppers.
"We believe Black Friday has gone from a period of management excitement to one of anguish," Nomura retail analysts Simeon Siegel, Gene Vladimirov and Julie Kim wrote in a note to investors.
Thankfully, we’re finally speaking with our wallets. Companies that stay closed on Thanksgiving won big this year. GameStop saw a 132 percent rise over 2014 in online Thanksgiving traffic. PetSmart, Nordstrom and Pier1 all reported the same, according to digital analytics company SimilarWeb.
And REI? They saw a 10 percent jump on Turkey Day and a 26 percent jump on Black Friday.
Adobe, which tracks 100 million visits to 4,500 retail websites, reported a 22 percent jump in online sales on Thanksgiving and a 14.3 percent jump on Black Friday.
I have so many friends that work in retail. They have lost Thanksgiving. Some of these friends make more than most white-collar gigs out there, but they are single-handedly ready to throw away that salary because of the horror that is Black Friday.
Let’s rebrand the day. Look at what Chinese e-commerce giant Alibaba created with Singles Day. A Jerry Lewis telethon-type star-studded TV event (Adam Lambert and Daniel Craig were just a couple of the celebs that showed up) that netted $14.3 billion in sales in one day online!
Let’s ditch Black Friday, close all the stores on Friday and put all our resources into making Cyber Monday an event that blows Alibaba out of the water.
It’s time, people. There is no point to Black Friday any more. Every year around this time, I’ll see stories about the brands we will likely see die in the coming year.
Here’s hoping Black Friday is top of that list this year. It’s a concept, like Blockbuster or Radio Shack, whose time has passed.
More by Tim Wood
Get Travel Deals and Travel News
Latest Travel News
Airlines & Airports
Destination & Tourism
Airlines & Airports
Hotel & Resort
Cruise Line & Cruise Ship