At dawn on Friday morning, many shoppers will rise early to vie for discounts. But others will stay home, motivated by the growing consensus that Black Friday is overrated.
“Black Friday is quickly losing its meaning on many fronts,” Neil Stern, senior partner at Chicago-based McMillanDoolittle, told The Chicago Tribune. “Yes, there will be deals and door busters Friday morning, but they are really becoming an antiquated concept.”
More than half of U.S. consumers say they rely less on Black Friday than they used to, and Black Friday weekend sales tumbled 11% last year as the number of shoppers fell by more than 5%. Those weak numbers can be blamed on both early sales and e-tailers, which feature the same deals without the lines. Amazon, for example, is offering a whole week of deals.
Walmart, ranked second in L2’s Digital IQ Index: Big Box for its strong digital competence, aims to maintain its Black Friday relevance by focusing on e-commerce channels. For the first time, the retail giant is offering most sale items online Thanksgiving morning before they hit stores the following day, in addition to promising ten new online specials daily throughout the holiday shopping season.
Like Walmart, other retailers that place high in L2’s rankings are launching Black Friday a day early, including Staples, Macy’s, and Radio Shack. Best Buy is opening at 5pm on Thanksgiving Day in efforts to offset a predicted decline in revenue.
However, given the diminished importance of the shopping event, retailers that once held Black Friday sales can now reap more benefits from canceling them. The media attention that REI scored by opting out of Black Friday might benefit the outdoor gear retailer far more than a one-day sale.